General News of Thu, 16 Feb 20175

Funding free SHS with Heritage Fund laudable – Joseph Cudjoe

The Vice Chairman of the Mines and Energy Committee of Parliament, Joseph Cudjoe, has lauded attempts by government to fund its much touted free SHS policy from the Heritage Fund.

For him, the use of the Fund to educate Ghanaians was a step “in the right direction.”

Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo Marfo, on Tuesday hinted that the free SHS campaign pledge of the president 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.

The government’s plan to fund the free SHS policy from the Heritage Fund was met with stern repudiation from various Civil Society Organisations including Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), Integrated Social Development Center (ISODEC) and IMANI. The minority in parliament vowed to block any attempt by government to expend the Heritage Fund.

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Dr. Steve Manteaw, policy analyst at ISODEC described the disclosure by the government as needless and a “…lazy man’s option to a difficult task.”

Also, Dr. Ishmael Ackah, the Head of Policy Unit and Energy Policy Advisor at ACEP argued that using the fund meant for future generations on the free SHS policy is not economically prudent and extremely worrying.

“The Heritage Fund was supposed to satisfy the principle of inter-generational equity—that the resources we have now belongs to us and the future generation so let us save a percent for them,” he told Naa Dedei Tettey on Starr Today on Wednesday.

Mr. Cudjoe, however, disagreed. “Ghanaians voted for free SHS, so there is nothing wrong using the money of Ghanaians to fund it,” he told Francis Abban on Morning Starr Thursday.

But speaking on the same show, Dr. Manteaw countered Mr. Cudjoe’s argument, saying the haste by the government to use the Heritage Fund on the free SHS policy is a clear indication that the government has not thought thoroughly of the source of funding for the policy.

“We should not abuse the nine percent from the Heritage Fund. In this country, it looks like we do not plan well before doing things,” he said lucidly, suggesting that Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA) allocation should rather be used.

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