Business News of Thu, 24 May 20180

Find other means besides oil to finance ‘Free SHS’ - Headmaster

The Headmaster of Techiman Senior High School (TESS), Mr. Jacob Afful, has urged government not to ‘undervalue’ the impact of cocoa and cashew on the economy, particularly as attention increases on oil sector revenue.

As government continues to make real its promise to implement ‘Free Senior High School’ education, using oil money as a major funding source, he said alternative financing bases should be identified in order for the policy to be sustained.

He said: “Apart from the oil money we are using, we should also find other means of raising revenue from the country so that free SHS will not only benefit from the oil money but other sources as well”.

To train the country’s future manpower, he conceded, is a laudable initiative and key to development of the country – for which reason he insisted that efforts must also be made to look at alternative funding.

He explained, given that oil is a finite resource, it would be prudent “not to put all the emphasis on oil revenue”.

“Proceeds from cocoa have been able to look after all of us before the oil money came, so we shouldn’t kill cocoa,” he observed, asking for continued support to the development of cocoa, cashew and other sub-sectors.

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Mr. Afful acknowledged the importance of the policy on education while he was speaking in an interview during the visit of a combined team from the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) and journalists from the Institute of Financial and Economic Journalists (IFEJ) to the Techiman Senior High School, to assess the impact of oil revenue on the Free SHS policy.

The visit to the school forms part of the 2018 district engagement and oil-funded project inspection in the Brong Ahafo Region, supported by the German Development Cooperation, GIZ.

Section 21(6) of the PRMA requires that the priority areas for spending the ABFA, in the absence of a long-term national development plan, shall be reviewed every 3 years.

For the 2017-2019 period, government selected Agriculture; Physical Infrastructure and Service Delivery in Education; Physical Infrastructure and Service Delivery in Health; and Road, Rail and other critical Infrastructure Development as the new priority areas.

The revision of priority areas, according to the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori Atta “is to give focus to infrastructure development in critical areas of the economy”.

So far, the pronouncement of government on utilising the oil revenue to support national development investment into the other three priority areas appears to be suffering at the expense of Free SHS.

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