The plan by the Akufo-Addo-led government to use the Heritage Fund to finance the Free Senior High School programme is “shocking” and “untenable”, Fiifi Kwetey, a former Minister of Transport, has said.
According to him, the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP), when it was in opposition, made it known that it would fiercely resist any attempt by the then government to use the Heritage Fund for whatever purpose since the fund was for the unborn generation and, thus, should not be spent.
His comments come after Senior Minister Yaw Osafo Maafo stated at a forum in Accra on Tuesday February 14 that the Heritage Fund, into which nine per cent of the country’s annual petroleum revenue is paid, would be used to sustain the Free SHS programme.
He said: “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.”
But speaking in an interview with Class 91.3FM’s Emefa Apawu on the 505 programme on Wednesday February 15, Mr Kwetey said: “Clearly this position by our friends now in government is shocking and absolutely difficult to understand.
“First and foremost we need to understand that the reason behind the Petroleum Fund is to say Ghana has made a discovery of oil and this resource is finite resource. A time will come that there will be not one litre of oil and, therefore, it is important to make generations to come clearly know that Ghana at a stage had access to this particular resource.
“In setting out the law, we need to understand that there were three main aspects of that revenue that is coming from the Petroleum Account. The first one was going to support the budget – that is, the Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA). There is an aspect which is going to be used for stabilisation because it was important to keep some Stabilisation Fund and the third aspect is a percentage will go into the Heritage.”
He added: “…We must appreciate that that is the reason why as a country the budget that is made available for education, out of the taxes we pay, every year some money is devoted to take care of education. And apart from that, in Ghana we have the GETFund, Ghana Education Trust Fund, so you don’t now come and take the money that we said it should be set aside for the sake of the children unborn.
“The people who are talking about this today fiercely resisted us that even if need be, they would resist this with everything they had to ensure the money meant for the children is not touched under any circumstances.
“So, this is a no, no; It is untenable.”