General News of Sat, 18 Feb 201728
Osafo Maafo was thinking aloud in Heritage Fund comment – Akomea
The governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) has maintained no absolute decision has been taken to use the Heritage Fund to finance the free senior high school (SHS) programme.
NPP Director of Communications, Nana Akomea said comments by Senior Minister Yaw Osafo Maafo about the likelihood of government using the reserved Fund was a suggestion.
"This were words of the Senior Minister thinking aloud," he said on Joy FM/MultiTV's news analysis programme Newsfile Saturday.
Mr Maafo had told Joy News, government would champion a review of the the Heritage Fund component in the Petroleum Management Act (Act 815) in order to fund its flagship policy.
He said this had become possible because the government wants to invest a significant revenue generated from the oil industry to finance key programmes and bolster sectors of the economy.
The former Finance Minister's comment comes days after President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo had assured Ghanaians the free SHS policy would be rolled out in September.
Addressing the 60th Anniversary of Okuapemman SHS at Akropong Akuapem on February 11, the President said “By free SHS, we mean that in addition to tuition, which is already free, there will be no admission fees, no library fees, no science centre fees, no computer laboratory fees, no examination fees, no utility fees."
"There will be free textbooks, free boarding and free meals and day students will get a meal at school for free. Free SHS will also cover agricultural, vocational and technical institutions at the high school level,” he added.
While many have lauded the President for his decision, it is Mr Osafo Maafo's comment that has sent tongues lashing government.
Civil society organisations and political opponents have fiercely registered their dissatisfaction with government for considering the use of the Heritage Fund.
Section 10 of the Petroleum Revenue Management Act 815 states that,
"A Ghana Heritage Fund is hereby established.
(2) The object the Ghana Heritage Fund is to (a) provide an endowment to support development for future generations when petroleum reserves have been depleted; and
(b) receive excess petroleum revenue.
(3) The Ghana Heritage Fund shall receive from the Petroleum Holding Fund a percentage petroleum revenue which be determined by Parliament as savings for the purpose of this Act."
The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has described government's decision to use the Ghana Heritage Fund as "lazy and incompetent." It argued the use of the Fund could destabilise the economy of the country.
However, on Thurday, NPP Obuasi West MP Kwaku Kwarteng told Joy News government had not taken any definite decision to tap into the Fund. Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta has also said the sources of funding for the free SHS do not include the Heritage Fund.
Nana Akomea who is reiterating the position of Mr Kwarteng said the Senior Minister was expressing his thoughts on the subject and not communicating government decision.
"The Finance Minister had clarified the situation...we are all waiting legally for the funding sources," he said.