General News of Mon, 20 Feb 201710
Show us how you will fund free SHS in State of Nation Address - NDC MPs to Akufo-Addo
The Minority in Parliament has asked President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to spell out in his State of the Nation Address, scheduled for Tuesday, the sources of funding for the free senior high school (SHS) policy.
Deputy Minority leader, James Avedzi Klutsey said the clarification by the President would put to rest the contradictions regarding the sources of funding for government’s flagship programme.
The President has said on February 11 that his government would roll out the free SHS programme in September 2017. He said students entering SHS in the 2017/2018 academic year would not be required to pay anything.
“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 fees, no computer laboratory fees, no examination fees, and no utility fees,” he told a gathering at the 60th Anniversary of Okuapemman SHS at Akropong.
“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,” added.
Although the President’s declaration has reignited the debate about the feasibility of the programme, it is a claim by a senior government official that has stoked the fire.
In an interview with Joy News, Senior Minister Yaw Osafo Maafo suggested government might use the Heritage fund to cater for the project that is expected to cost the nation GHC3.6 billion yearly.
Per the Petroleum Revenue Management Act 815 in Section 10, the Heritage Fund, which is nine percent of revenue accrued from Ghana's crude oil proceeds, has been reserved for future generation.
"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."
Civil society organisations and political opponents have slammed government for considering the use of the Heritage Fund to finance the programme.
But Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta has explained government has no intention to use the Fund, saying they have identified sustainable sources of funding for the policy.
President Akufo-Addo is expected to tell Ghanaians the state of the nation on Tuesday, but National Democratic Congress (NDC) Members of Parliament (MPs) want him to state how he is going to fund the free SHS programme.
"He should also tell Ghanaians that since he took over he has been able to sack a number of CEOs and replaced them," Mr Avedzi said.
The NDC MPs also want the President to touch on what they say is the destructive work of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP)'s Invincible forces who are seizing vehicles from former government officials.
"If you have invincible forces despite the legal forces he should tell Ghanaians the number of cars handed to him and what is the state of the alleged 208 missing state vehicles," Mr Avedzi.