President John Mahama has denounced suggestions that his administration has gone back on its decision not pay trainee nurses' allowance in order to cop their support ahead of the December polls.
The President explains government has decided to pay the allowance temporarily in anticipation of a law that will migrate the trainee nurses onto the Students’ Loan Trust Fund.
“We decided that we were going to migrate them onto the Students Loan so we stopped the trainee allowances in order to use the funds, instead, to ensure that it created more opportunities for nurses to be employed. Then our attention was drawn that to the fact that [the trainee nurses] don’t qualify because the Students' Loan Act does not allow them to be on Students’ Loan,” he said.
He was speaking Wednesday, November 16, during the 2016 Election Presidential Encounter organised by the state broadcaster, Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), in partnership with the National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE) and Star-Ghana.
The encounters are aimed at giving a chance to the seven Presidential aspirants to explain their vision and policy objectives for the voters.
Trainee nurses agitated against the government following the announcement that their allowance has been scrapped.
The Vice President, Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, recently justified the decision on grounds that the allowance was depleting funds meant for improving nursing education.
Many saw the Vice President’s pronouncement as contradicting an earlier promise by the President that the allowance was going to be restored -- feeding into suspicion that the plan to restore the allowance was not well thought through.
However, responding to a question by a member of the audience on the issue at Wednesday’s encounter, the President said there is no contradiction.
He said while the government worked towards amending the law to allow the student nurses to be migrated onto the Students’ Loan Trust Fund, there was a need to keep paying the previous allowance to enable the students to finance their upkeep.
“They are being paid an updated allowance not at a level they used to receive in the past, but a lower allowance so that they are able to make ends meet until we are able to amend the students' loan trust law,” he said.