By Stanley Onyekwere
In the wake of the swift intervention by the FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello, Association of Resident Medical Doctors, FCT branch has indicated that it might suspend its planned strike to give the Administration a chance to look into their grievances.
Recall the doctors had given a twenty-one day ultimatum within which to down tools in protest against what they described as the arbitrary way the new Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE) Tax regime was calculated and deducted from their salaries.
They lamented that the development resulted in them having to take home only half of their salaries.
Other issues raised during their emergency meeting with the FCT Minister and relevant Administration’s top functionaries include the selective payment of the skipping allowances approved by the FCT Minister, which they described as a milestone across the country.
Bello thanked the doctors for the services they have been rendering to residents.
He noted that the incident puts into perspective the important role of medical doctors in the society.
The Minister noted that the current FCT Administration has maintained a healthy relationship with the doctors and was surprised when he received the ultimate from the association.
He lamented that one of the lowest moments of his Administration was when FCT nurses downed tools in solidarity with their counterparts who were protesting non-payment of salaries in their states, despite that FCT was paying the nurses as at when due.
He equally regretted the deaths that occurred during that period and reminded the doctors of their call to save lives and render human services.
The Minister urged the doctors to rest assured that the Administration would do everything within the law to ensure adequate welfare for the citizens.
Furthermore, he directed relevant official like the Permanent Secretary, Secretary for Health and Human Services Secretariat, Chairman of the FCT Internal Revenue Service Board (FCT-IRS) and the Director of Treasury to meet with the Association to iron out issues.
Bello canvassed for proper tax education for public servants, urging them to take time to get acquainted with how to file their tax papers as a means of saving themselves the pains of excessive taxation.
Earlier, the President of the Association, Dr. Michael Olarenwaju conveyed the appreciation of its members for the efforts of the FCT Minister to improve the welfare of doctors under the Administration.
He said the meeting was necessitate by the interest of members to provide uninterrupted health care for the people of FCT in a friendly convivial environment.
The association, which he noted, is a body of all doctors working in the FCT public hospitals with the exception of consultants.
He underscored the fact that FCT was the first administration in the country to commence the payment of the new salary structure for doctors.
According to him, “It as was after the FCT’s initiative that most other states and institutions started paying doctors the new salary structure.”
He also recalled that two years ago the Minister also approved the skipping policy for doctors in the FCT which was also a welcome development.
He however lamented that recent events have left a bitter taste in the mouth of doctors, because of the drastic reduction in their salaries in the last two months as a result of the implementation of the new PAYE tax.
He indicated that members of the association being law abiding citizens were not against tax payment but were against the arbitrary calculation and the implementation without notice, which he said greatly impoverished the members, and sapped their energy and motivation.
He also expressed dismay at the non-payment of the 28 days relocation allowance allowances to for doctors as well as a recent promotion which did not seem to recognize the skipping allowance approved by the FCT Minister.
He appealed to the Administration to look into these plight with a view to giving due consideration to them.
In a quick reaction to the meeting, the Secretary, FCT Health and Human Services Secretariat, Barr. Amanda Pam, has directed that all tax deductions from doctors’ salaries be suspended forthwith to give room for amicable settlement of the issues raised by the doctors