By Alva M. Wolokolie
If the Plenary of the Senate endorses the recommendations of the Special Technical Committee on Health Workers from both Houses, 3000 out of 5,396 health workers would be elevated to employee status and placed on government’s payroll effective fiscal year 2013/2014.
It may be recalled that health workers in the country adopted a ‘Go-Slow’ posture for about two-weeks in demand of salary increment and elevation of about 5,396 workers. They have been working for over 3 years without being placed on payroll but were receiving incentives.
The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare has been proposing to the Finance Ministry to place at least 2000 of those workers on payroll but the arrangement has been fruitless.
But realizing the gravity of the situation especially when the ‘Go-Slow’ action took place, a special meeting of the Legislature Joint Committee on Health was convened on Sunday, July 28, 2013, at the John F. Kennedy Hospital in Sinkor to understand the on-going challenges existing between the Ministry of Health and the National Health Workers Association of Liberia (NAHWAL).
As a result of that meeting, a Special Technical Committee was organized to probe the reference concerns and recommend a way forward to the Legislature Joint Committee on Health.
At yesterday’s presentation of the report delivered by Senator Armah Zolu Jallah of Gbarpolu County, several recommendations were made from key issues and comments handed down by health workers at the July 28, 2013 meeting.
Sen. Jallah who was appointed Chairman of the committee by his colleagues told reporters that although the Ministry of Health requested in its proposed 2013/2014 budget year 2000 of the 5,396 workers to be employed, his committee supports the request but further recommended that an additional 1,000 workers be elevated as full employees beginning 2013/20134 fiscal year.
Commenting on the increase of salaries of full-time employees nationwide which would be done on the gross salary of each employee following the reinstatement of the US$55.00 deduction on affected workers, Sen. Jallah’s committee recommended that each of the current 3,600 health workers should receive a salary increase of US$100 effective fiscal year 2013/2014.
According to Sen. Jallah, the National Health Workers Association of Liberia has concurred that when contract health workers are moved to government’s payroll, US$55 incentive will be deducted.
Count 4 of the workers’ concern which talks about the alleged Ecobank Liberia, without proper prior notification has deducted and continues to deduct US$2.00 from every Ministry of Health employee who is paid through the bank’s government employee payment system. The committee commented and recommended that the issue be pending because it awaits receipt of documentation from Ecobank, which substantiates prior notification to health workers regarding the referenced US$2.00 deduction. The Committee said failure by the bank to properly authenticate prior notification to health workers regarding this issue would result to repayment of the deducted amount.
Other counts like the Lawmakers and the General Auditing Commission (GAC) should scrutinize the Health Ministry payroll to ensure that those listed are legitimate employees of the Ministry. The Special Technical Committee says it’s awaiting response from the GAC but if the scrutiny reveal names of individuals that are not employed by the MOH, those names must be removed from the MOH payroll, replaced with health workers on the incentive program, and appropriate action taken to curtail a recurrence.