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Health Workers Complain of Reduced Risk Allowances

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“I received the money but not satisfied with the amount sent. I expected more than just one million shillings but the ministry has paid me less and no one is explaining why the money was deducted”, the medic who preferred anonymity because of victimization by the management said.
Health Workers carying out rapid COVID -19 tests on students who returned from Kampala -Photo by Jesse Johnson James
A number of health workers have allegedly received less money than what they expected in their risk allowances paid in arrears. The health workers deployed in COVID-19 Treatment Unit- CTU had taken months without receiving their allowances.

Last week, a number of health workers received the payment through mobile money instead of their respective bank accounts as it was in 2020. The government committed to pay each health worker in CTU an allowance of Shillings 80,000 for each day of work.

However, the health workers received only about 30 percent of the expected pay. A health worker attached to the CTU at Soroti Regional Referral Hospital says that she expected Shillings 1,680,000 for the 21 days she worked for in May and June but only received Shillings 1,175,000 on Friday on her mobile money account.

“I received the money but not satisfied with the amount sent.  I expected more than just one million shillings but the ministry has paid me less and no one is explaining why the money was deducted”, the medic who preferred anonymity because of victimization by the management said.

URN has since learnt that deductions of the allowances did not affect Soroti alone. Medical workers including volunteers at Entebbe Regional Referral Hospital are equally unhappy that their risk allowances were taxed at a rate of 30 percent.

One of the nurses at Entebbe Referral Hospital who requested to remain anonymous says that she worked for 20 days from February to April and was expecting Shillings 1.6million but received only Shillings 560,000 on Wednesday when the health ministry paid risk allowances for 100 medics at the hospital.

She is puzzled because it implies that she worked for only 10 days in three months, considering that the risk allowance is Shillings 56,000 after taxation. A medical doctor in the same unit also expected Shillings 1.6million but only received Shillings 1.2 million for the 20 days he spent in the ward. All the medics attached to CTU who talked with our reporter said that their allowances had been deducted.

"There is poor communication in this hospital. First, the allowances were not paid for a long time. Secondly, deductions were made without our knowledge and thirdly, the number of days worked are either less or more for some of us”, a medical doctor said at Entebbe. Some of the workers especially volunteers are losing morale at work. 

They say that if the issue of payment of their allowances is not resolved then they will abandon the job, which they note is very risky. Dr. Michael Muwanga, the Hospital Director of Soroti was not in office when our reporter reached to seek his comments on the matter. He neither picked nor returned our calls when contacted on phone.

Emmanuel Ainebyoona, the Health Ministry Communications Officer, said that they are aware of the deductions but referred our reporter to the Ministry of Finance and Uganda Revenue Authority.

“We have raised it with the Ministry of Finance and URA why they are taxing health workers’ allowances. I will need to find out how much tax has been levied on the allowances. For now, URA is in better position to respond to you on this matter”, he said on phone.

Ian Muhimbise Rumanyika, the Acting Assistant Commissioner in charge of Public and Corporate Affairs at URA did not deny or acknowledge taxing the allowances when contacted on phone. “You are raising a very serious matter. Send your concerns to my email so that I can respond to you officially”, he said.

He, however, only responded with the income tax rates applicable to resident individuals, which indicates that any monthly income exceeding UGX. 410,000 is charged 30 percent tax.