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Don't give 'haircut' to health sector funds – Pharmaceutical Society to govt

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Fri, 9 Dec 2022 Source:

The Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana has urged the government not to touch funds due the health sector in the debt restructuring exercise it has announced, as it will disrupt health service delivery in the country.

In a statement issued on December 7, the society warned the government against touching the National Health Insurance Scheme funds in particular.

It also urged the government to pay monies owed to suppliers of pharmaceutical products; adding that the government should not give the pensions of workers a haircut.

"The biggest financing mechanism for healthcare in Ghana is the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS). We, therefore, call on government to ensure that the NHIS funds are not touched or reduced in anyway and the funds are promptly released to the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) to ensure that the people of Ghana have unhindered access to healthcare, and efforts towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC) are not unduly affected by the current crises. We call on the Ministry of Finance and Parliament to ensure this is done and done timeously.

"All debts owed to suppliers of pharmaceutical products to healthcare facilities should be paid to avoid any disruptions in the supply of pharmaceuticals and other products in Ghana.

"We strongly advise government to ensure that pension funds are not impacted by the "haircuts announced by the Hon. Finance Minister on 4 December 2022, to enable beneficiaries of these funds to have access to their full benefits," parts of the statement read.

Meanwhile, labour unions in Ghana, including the Ghana Medical Association (GMA), the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT), the Ghana Registered Nurses and Midwives Association (GRNMA) and the University Teachers Association (UTAG) have asked the government not to apply a "haircut" to Tier 2 Pension Funds as part of the debt restructuring programme it has announced.

The Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, announced a number of measures under the government's Domestic Debt Exchange (DDE) programme.

He stated in a 4-minute address on Sunday, December 4, that the announcement was in line with the government's Debt Sustainability Analysis as contained in the 2023 budget he presented to Parliament on November 24.

The minister laid out, among other things, the exchange of existing domestic bonds with four new ones, as well as their maturity dates and terms of coupon payments.

He also addressed the overarching goal of the government relative to its engagements with the International Monetary Fund as well as measures to minimize the impact of domestic bond exchange on different stakeholders.

"The Government of Ghana has been working hard to minimize the impact of the domestic debt exchange on investors holding government bonds, particularly small investors, individuals, and other vulnerable groups," he said, before outlining three main measures:

• Treasury Bills are completely exempted and all holders will be paid the full value of their investments on maturity.

• There will be NO haircut on the principal of bonds.

• Individual holders of bonds will not be affected.

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