Dean of University of Professional Studies (UPSA) Law Faculty, Ernest Kofi Abotsi has said the flagship Free SHS programme of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government which has been endorsed and supported by the opposition parties is not entirely free as touted.
According to him, the cost of policies which are mostly branded free is indirectly paid by the ordinary tax-paying Ghanaian.
Contributing to a panel discussion on Newsfile he said, “to be honest, in reality, there is nothing free. All these things politicians promise are not free because we are paying for them with our taxes and by this reason, we are actually paying for them…”
He continued; “What we are not doing is direct payment…as the beneficiary of these services that have been promised.”
The ruling NPP government in their 2020 manifesto promised amongst other things to consolidate the implementation of the Free SHS programme while the opposition NDC, led by John Dramani Mahama promised to make the policy more inclusive and substantive.
By inclusive, the NDC meant that private schools will be captured under the policy.
However, Kofi Abotsi was quick to indicate that roping in private schools to the Free SHS policy would be illegal.
“…they simply have no capacity or mandate to do that…government cannot source its obligation to a private body,” he said.
The only way to achieve that, according to him, is if the government decides to bear the entire cost for the students in private schools.
The Free SHS policy was inaugurated in September 2017, barely a year after the Akufo-Addo-led government took over the helm of affairs after winning the 2016 general elections.