General News of Wed, 15 Feb 201745
Free SHS: Don’t use Heritage Fund – ISODEC warns
A policy analyst at the Integrated Social Development Center (ISODEC), Dr. Steve Manteaw has kicked against government’s move to fund the free Senior High School policy from the Heritage Fund.
He argued that it is unwise to spend the Heritage Fund on recurrent expenditure and that “won’t yield the benefits that we want.”
The Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo Marfo on Tuesday hinted that the government’s much hyped free SHS policy would be funded from the Heritage Fund.
The Heritage Fund is a strategic endowment reserve established to “support the development for future generations when Ghana’s petroleum reserves have been depleted”, according to the Petroleum Revenue Management Act of 2011.
The fund receives nine per cent of the country’s annual petroleum revenue. The Petroleum Act also provides that 21 per cent of annual oil revenues should go into a Stabilisation Fund- to support the economy in dire times – while 70 per cent should be used to support the budget.
But according to Dr. Manteaw attempts to fund the policy from the Heritage Fund is worrying and must not be countenanced adding “it is a lazy man’s option to a difficult task,” in an interview with Accra based Citi FM on Wednesday.
Dr. Manteaw added that hearing the Senior Minister suggest that the Heritage Fund will be the source of funding for the free SHS policy he got “scared.”
“I get scared because we risk returning to the era of Gold mining where we spent everything. In fact we even sold our gold share in the AngloGold Ashanti to use it to pay salary. One may say that well, but in this case we are using it to finance education which is a good thing.
Yes it is. But it is a recurring expenditure item. We are going to spend the Heritage Fund on recurring expenditure and I don’t think that will yield the kind of results that one wants to see in the economy, in a way that benefits future generations,” said Dr. Manteaw.
He said if the money is used on infrastructure, future generations can build their lives on the strength of the infrastructure they meet.
“So I am worried,” he said explaining that, that does not suggest that “we are opposed to the free SHS” but using the Heritage Fund on it is not the way to go.
He further urged the government to be more innovative in looking for ways to fund the policy.