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FG approves N8.9bn COVID-19 hazard allowance for health workers

By NewsDesk, with agency report

Towards ending resident doctors’ ongoing industrial action across the country, the Federal Government has approved additional N8.9 billion to pay up large per cent of the June 2020 COVID-19 allowance to all medical health workers in the country.

As stated, with the approval, implementation of the payment of the special hazard and inducement allowance has been concluded and that the N20 billion appropriated in 2020 COVID-19 budget has been exhausted.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen Chris Ngige, said that the approval had been cash backed and that mandate sent to Central Bank of Nigeria for payments would take effect from September 9.

Speaking during the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) after the meeting between Federal Government and the Nigeria Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) on Wenesday in Abuja, the minister said that the approval would bring the total disbursement to about N288 billion.

Ngige noted that discussion for review of a permanent hazard allowance for health workers would commence after consultation with all stakeholders in the health sector and that all health workers in a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) would be covered.

He also said that the government had paid the total sum of N9.3 billion to insurance companies for Life Group Insurance and payment of death benefits for health workers and that the enrollment for the group life insurance would be by submission of nominal rolls by the various health institutions, which NARD had been mandated at previous meeting to accomplish.

He also assured that the government would pay all owed arreas of consequential adjustment on the National Minimum Wage to members of the association and would also implement such in states tertiary health institutions.

“It was noted that those affected were the Youth Corps Members and House Officers, who are regarded as ad hoc staff and for State Hospitals, the Federal Government can only be persuasive.

“It was recalled that NARD had been assigned the responsibility to submit a list from the defaulting hospitals to the Federal Ministry of Health for onward transmission to the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, ” he said.

The minister further said that on the issue of domestication of the Residency Training Act by state governments, it agrees to recognise the autonomy of states across the federation.

He added that the meeting agreed that the issue would be tabled at the National Economic Council and National Council of Health to persuade the states to domesticate the Act.

“In view of these Understandings, NARD will consult with her Executive Council within the next 24hours with a view to calling off the strike by September 10, 2020.

“Nobody will be victimized for any activity connected with or for participating in the industrial action,” Ngige said.

NARD National President, Dr. Sokomba Aliyu, said that the meeting was successful as a lot of pledges and agreements were reached with timeline.

“Following the outcome of this meeting, we are hoping that all of that will address the concerns of our members, so we shall be convoking a meeting immediate with our members on the way forward,” he said.

It would be recalled that NARD had embarked on a total and an indefinite strike in all federal and state hospitals across the country to press for its demands.

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