Minority leader, Haruna Iddrisu says government’s decision to tap into reserved oil revenue known as Heritage Fund to finance its free senior high school (SHS) policy would be fatal for Ghana’s future.
He said the use of the Fund, which is nine percent of Ghana's oil revenue, might compromise the safety of the country because it was set aside to serve as a buffer during challenging economic times.
“Education is key to development, key to eradicating poverty, [and] key to improving the employability of Ghanaians regrettably not on the use of the Heritage Fund,” he told Joy News Wednesday.
The governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) has said it would use the Heritage Fund, which is one of three funds created by the Petroleum Revenue Management Act (815), to fund its flagship free SHS programme.
Addressing the 60th Anniversary of Okuapemman SHS at Akropong Akuapem last Saturday, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo said government would implement the policy coming September.
“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 explained.
Days later, Senior Minister Yaw Osafo Maafo in an interview with Joy News said government would use the Ghana Heritage Fund to finance the policy which is starting in the 2017/2018 academic year.
The decision has triggered sharp criticisms from opposition political parties and some civil societies who believe the purpose of the Fund would be defeated if government use it.
Section 10 of the PRM 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."
Mr Iddrisu who is a former Employment Minister said there is already prioritisation for education which is supported by the Ghana Education Trust Fund which receives 3.5 percent of Value Added Tax (VAT).
"If you make promises without weighing the magnitude you will be caught in the quagmire the NPP is making to Ghanaians," he said.
The NPP, he believes "did not thought through the programme" which explains the decision to use the Heritage Fund which he conceived as an "insurance against non-renewable."
Mr Iddrisu said the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Members of Parliament (MPs) would be looking forward to scrutinising the economic policies of government.
"It means that they have already given some indications that they may not be able to honor their campaign promises. We will monitor quite closely it is early in the day and disappointing too early for them not to be believed that they did not prepare for their promises," he said.