General News of Thu, 16 Feb 201725
Funding free SHS with Heritage Fund a ‘sensible idea’ – Kwesi Pratt
The Managing Editor of the Insight Newspaper, Kwesi Pratt Jnr has described as a ‘sensible idea’ proposals to use percentages of the Heritage Fund to fund the free Senior High School (SHS) concept.
According to him, he has always been against the idea of reserving some monies for future generation when the monies could have been invested now for maximum benefits in the future.
“I fully agree that education not just at the SHS but at all levels must be made free, the basic one must be compulsory and all who fail to take advantage must be punished… I am of the opinion that rather than pack monies for future generation, we should invest in things that would be profitable to them, there is more sense in that.
“I don’t have any trouble with the government if it seeks to use the Heritage Fund to take care of children in school and that is what I believe in…,” he said on Adom FM’s Morning Show, ‘Dwaso Nsem’ on Thursday.
Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo Maafo, revealed Wednesday that government would review the Heritage Fund component in the Petroleum Management Act in order to use the proceeds to finance President Nana Akufo-Addo’s Free Senior High School (SHS) policy.
According to the senior minister, the decision has become necessary because the government wants to invest significant revenue generated from the oil industry to fund major sectors like education since it has the potential of building a good foundation for the country.
This view has been widely criticized by several persons including some civil society groups.
A policy analyst at the Integrated Social Development Center (ISODEC), Dr. Steve Manteaw described as unwise to spend the Heritage Fund on recurrent expenditure and that “won’t yield the benefits that we want.”
“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,” Dr. Manteaw said on Joy FM.
But Kwesi Pratt speaking on Adom FM’s Morning Show, ‘Dwaso Nsem’ Thursday said he fully supports the decision to make education free at the SHS level and agreed to decision to use a percentage from the fund for the programme.
According to him, the whole idea of making education free at all levels is something he supports as it started from Nkrumah’s regime.
To him, it was very possible to make education free because a country with less resources like Cuba was doing same.
His only problem, he said was with the inconsistency in the debates by proponents of the use of portions of the Heritage Fund to support education as the same people kicked against the argument when it cropped up during the administration of former President John Mahama.”
“When Mahama was in power and the issue of Heritage Fund cropped up, I said it was never a good idea because money doesn’t have a constant value and depreciates by time, if we want a good future for children and grandchildren, it is about investing in education, if we do not build infrastructure, our future is very bleak…the people kicking against the use of the Heritage Fund did not start today, it’s from NDC time, they are being consistent and only repeating what they said during NDC government reign.
“It’s good the NPP are now seeing the sense in what some of us proposed during the time of NDC…they have to tell us what was wrong with them when they opposed us then,” he argued.
He further called on the government to come clear on the actual sources of money to fund the free SHS apart from the Heritage Fund since the money in the fund is not enough.
To Kwesi Pratt, it would not be in the best interest of the country to rely on donor support as the economies of major foreign donors are now on their knees.
Click on the video to watch Kwesi Pratt’s argument on the Free SHS