General News Thu, 16 Feb 2017

$300m Heritage Fund not enough for Free SHS – PIAC Chair

The Chairman of the Public Interest Accountability Committee (PIAC), Joseph Winful, has expressed doubts about the capacity of the Heritage Fund in its present stage, to meet the needs of the Free Senior High School policy.

Speaking on Eyewitness News, Mr. Winful indicated that, the fund had less than $300 million, while some analysts say the free SHS policy could cost the country GH¢3.6 billion yearly.

“The amount is less than $300 million and the interest is not that significant so even if you exhaust the whole thing with its interest, the amount may not suffice for that type of expenditure,” the PIAC Chairman said.

This follows reports that the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government could review the Petroleum Revenue Management Act to allow for the use of the Heritage Fund to finance its free SHS policy.

He noted that, the rationale behind the Fund, is to ensure some security for the country’s future generations, hence dipping into the Fund will require a repeal of the Petroleum Revenue Management Act.

Section 10 (1) of the Petroleum Revenue Management Act, 2011 (Act 815), established the Heritage Fund, which is supposed to serve as an endowment for future generations, and which cannot be touched unless after 15 years of its establishment.

Mr. Winful indicated that, PIAC would be unhappy with any attempt to amend the law just allow money to be drawn from the fund.

“I would have thought that putting the provision of 15 years in will give us the grace to make sure that we accumulate sufficiently and then we have adequate resources. I would be disappointed and I am sure members of PIAC will be disappointed too if we immediately start amending our laws not for the improvement of it; but in order to dip our hands into it, because already we are concerned about the effective management of the petroleum revenues.”

PIAC awaiting government’s move.

Despite the hints government may review the Petroleum Revenue Management Act to allow for the use of the Heritage Fund to finance its free SHS policy, Mr. Winsome said PIAC was awaiting more concrete indications from government before it takes any action.

He suggested that perhaps, Mr. Osafo-Maafo, the Senior Minister, may have been misquoted or was just playing politics.

“We will wait until the action is actually initiated in order to have these provisions amended before we will come out to meet and discuss what we have to say or will have to present to the authorities. We believe that there is political talk and exact talk…We don’t know if this is a statement that came in or the honourable minister was misreported or misquoted.”

Source: citifmonline.com
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