General News of Fri, 17 Feb 201746

Free SHS: Funding contradictions worrying – Fiifi Kwetey

The inconsistency on the part of government officials with regards to the source of funding for the Free Senior High School programme is disturbing, Fiifi Kwetey, a former Minister of Transport, has said.

His comment follows assurances given by Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta that the government will not use the Heritage Fund to finance the programme.

“We are financing the Free SHS without looking at the Heritage Fund," Mr Ofori-Atta told journalists.

Mr Ofori-Atta’s clarification followed a comment by Senior Minister Yaw Osafo Marfo that the government may rely on the oil kitty to fund the Free SHS policy.

Mr Osafo Marfo stated at a forum in Accra on Tuesday, 14 February that: “We have to make an amendment to say that X per cent of the Heritage Fund, or the Petroleum Fund will be used to support second cycle education. If we think that industry requires a certain stimulus that will enable jobs to be created and you are creating a job to build Ghana, you can look at it and put in a certain amount. We are [also] looking at agriculture.”

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But speaking in an interview with Emefa Apawu on Class 91.3FM’s 505 programme on Friday February 17, Mr Kwetey said: “We are all really surprised at the development, however, we are happy that finally the government has seen wisdom with the clear protestations that have met the initial announcement by the Senior Minister.

“One week after the president has spoken (on the Free SHS), the Senior Minister comes out to mention the Heritage Fund as the source, and so for the statement by the Senior Minister to be described as some kind of a suggestion is rather shocking.

“How is it possible that a Senior Minister will speak as to how they are going to raise money and days after that we heard another member of government coming to tell us that ‘no, that really was not the official position’. It is impossible to think so, because you will think that before the president will make an announcement, his economic management team had discussed together with the president.

“How is it that they don't have clarity on how the funding will be done and the Senior Minister says it is going to be the Heritage Fund, then the Finance Minister comes in two days after and says no? That really is leaving the country extremely worried about what the future is going to be.”

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