$612M in year-end tax-free bonuses for healthcare workers in Guyana

President Ali announces

BEFORE the dawn of Christmas Day, 9,200 public sector healthcare workers will benefit from a one-off tax-free bonus valued at two weeks’ worth of their salaries.

The official announcement was made on Tuesday afternoon by President Dr. Irfaan Ali, and according to the Ministry of Finance, the overall pay-out will total $612 million and will commence before the end of this week.

Dr. Ali, in a broadcast message posted on his official Facebook page, extended his appreciation to the men and women who have been on the frontlines of the crucial fight against the deadly coronavirus and all of its emerging variants.
“I want to take this opportunity again to thank all the workers in the medical field, medical services, health services for the continued work that you’re doing,” the Head of State said.

He also took the time to caution the doctors, nurses and all other persons in the medical profession to not be distracted from the exceptional service that they have been providing to the people of Guyana.

“Do not be politically motivated or waiver…please continue to serve; you’re doing our country proud,” Dr. Ali assured the healthcare workers.
He reminded that the bonuses are merely in keeping with a promise made by the government earlier in the year to ensure that public healthcare workers all across the country are rewarded for their efforts and the sacrifices that come from risking their lives to treat and protect the nation from the deadly virus.

“Every single healthcare worker; not just doctors or nurses,” Dr. Ali clarified.
The President expressed hope that the bonus will serve as an incentive for the healthcare workers to continue making their valued contributions to Guyana.

“We are making that investment in you and we ask you to do of your best; continue to do of your best in support of the citizens of this country; our Guyanese brothers and sisters, and most of all in keeping with your oath of duty,” Dr. Ali said.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Finance, in a statement, reminded that this latest disbursement comes shortly after the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) instituted a seven per cent across-the-board increase for central government employees.

Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh, had also said that an amount of $400 million had been set aside to pay frontline workers in the health sector who have continued to face extenuating circumstances in the daily discharge of their duties, as Guyana and the rest of the world continue to battle the ravages of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.

“In making the final determination on the pay-out to the health sector employees, government has decided to make the payment applicable to all workers in the health sector,” the Finance Ministry said.

EXPANDED DISBURSEMENT
The decision to expand the disbursement was taken after the government was able to examine and take into account the challenges involved in identifying which specific posts in the health sector constitute frontline posts, and which do not.

As it is, $10.5 billion has already been expended on salary increases for more than 50,000 public servants, including teachers and members of the disciplined services.

“This bonus now paid to health sector workers represents yet another tangible step taken by the government to improve the circumstances of public sector employees and of all Guyanese more broadly,” the Finance Ministry noted.

Both the salary increase and the latest bonus payout represent just a portion of the direct cash benefits that Guyanese would have received from the time the PPP/C government assumed office in August 2020.

Some of those benefits include a $25,000 COVID-19 cash grant which was distributed to every household across the country; the education cash grants valued at $19,000, which was given to every school-aged child in the public and private school system; a $25,000 cash grant for pensioners, among others.

Added to that, the government responded to the devastating May 2021 floods by distributing $7.8 billion worth of flood-relief grants to each affected household and farmer across the length and breadth of the country.

President Ali, in his latest broadcast message, emphasised the need for Guyanese to take every precaution to guard against the coronavirus, especially as thousands prepare to celebrate the Christmas holiday season, and in light of the new Omicron variant that has also been making its rounds globally.

“[The] Omicron variant is something that we must take very seriously; around the world we’re seeing more and more infections faster spreading. So here in Guyana, as we continuously work to maintaining the balance in fighting off the pandemic, but also ensuring that our economy stays alive, we have to continue to take the necessary precautions,” the Head of State insisted.

In stressing the effects of the new variant, President Ali also reiterated his call for Guyanese to get vaccinated, as this is still the only scientifically-proven way to guard against the fatal effects of the virus.

“We have to be very serious about it…we cannot let our guards down, so what can we do, [is] for those of us who are still not vaccinated, I’m asking you to please, please, get vaccinated; this reduces the impact of omicron and the [other] variants; it reduces hospitalization and it also [prevents] death,” Dr. Ali said.

As it is, Guyana is one of the few countries which have been fortunate enough to have sufficient vaccines to immunise the entire adult and adolescent populations.

President Ali went even further to remind Guyanese of the availability of the booster shots for those who qualify.
In the meantime, the President said that he is appealing to all citizens to follow the established coronavirus protocols, especially as it relates to wearing masks and maintaining social distance, when in the public domain.

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