By Gracious George
The Bayelsa State Government on Tuesday warned that it will clamp down on individuals and agencies extorting money from private hospitals in the state.
The State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Pabara Newton Igwele gave the warning in Yenagoa.
He said the government will no longer fold its hands and watch people undermine the state health sector with such misconduct, stressing that anyone found culpable will face the law.
He spoke when he played host to the state chapter of the Association of General and Private Medical Practitioners of Nigeria (AGPMPN) .
Igwele explained that measures will be put in place to define the specific roles played by the Ministry of Health in overseeing activities of private hospitals in the state in order to put an end to complains of multiple taxation.
The Health Commissioner thanked the association for contributing immensely to the health sector in the state, adding that the upcoming Bayelsa Health Summit will help them develop an elaborate Health Act that will put an end to such disturbing issues.
Dr. Igwele told his guests that he has been making serious efforts to end quackery in the state as several Bayelsans have lost their lives to it.
In his remarks, the Vice Chairman AGPMPN, Dr. Ebikefe Tarilaemi Omu, said it became necessary for the association to meet with the Commissioner because of the outrageous taxation rates they are being levied by individuals and agencies claiming to represent the Ministry of Health.
He said in some cases, there are arguments between agencies on what tax to collect and who should collect it, creating unnecessary bills for the private Hospitals to pay.
According to him, considering that they contribute a lot to the development of the health care delivery system in the state, what they are meant to face as a result of the double taxation is unfair.
Dr. Omu stated that some hospitals are charged as much as 1.4 million annually as tenement rate apart from several other taxes they are required to pay, and appealed that the levies are made friendly for them.
He also stated that the capitation given to private Hospitals under the Bayelsa Health Insurance Scheme (BHIS) should be increased as a lot of them are finding it hard to cope with the current rate.