KEN OFORI-ATTA CLEARS AIR. GOVERNMENT WON’T FINANCE FREE SHS WITH HERITAGE FUND.
The Minister of Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, has stated that the government has no intention of using the Ghana Heritage Fund (GHF) to finance the free senior high school (SHS) policy due to take off in September this year.
Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of an event held as part of the 90th anniversary of Achimota School last Thursday, Mr Ofori-Atta said:“We are not considering using the Heritage Fund.”
“I think we have enough resources in our envelope to be able to do it (free SHS) without touching the Heritage Fund. We will not touch the Heritage Fund for the Free SHS,” he explained.
The Senior Minister, Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, stirred controversy when he hinted last Tuesday that the GHF was one of the areas the government was considering as a source of funding for free SHS education.
The Heritage Fund, which is one of the three accounts established under the Petroleum Revenue Management Act (Act 815), 2011, receives nine per cent of petroleum revenues, meant to cater for the country’s future generation.
Mr Osafo-Maafo mentioned that amendments would have to be made to the Petroleum Revenue Management Act to allow for the fund to be used to support second cycle education.
He further observed that once the fund was meant for the future development of the country, there was nothing wrong using it to invest in the youth who constituted the bedrock of the country’s future progress.
Political parties, including the National Democratic Congress (NDC), the Convention People’s Party (CPP) and the Progressive People’s Party (PPP), while welcoming the free SHS policy, raised red flags about the intention to use the GHF to fund it.
Officials of the parties, on separate platforms, shared the position that using proceeds of the GHF to finance the policy was not a better way to sustainably invest in the youth.
IMANI Ghana has also stated categorically that the government needed to look for sustainable sources of funding rather than using proceeds from the fund.
Budget to disclose funding
The disclosure by Mr Ofori-Atta that the government did not intend to rely on the GHF to implement the policy appeared to have weathered the storm that followed the Senior Minister’s remarks.
While assuring the country that details of how the government intends to finance the policy would be captured in the budget to be presented to Parliament in March, he added that the government had a competent economic team that was up to the task of meeting the funding required for the free SHS policy.
Meanwhile, the Ghana Union of Professional Students (GUPS) has called on the government to consider the plight of the future generation by allowing the GHF to grow and serving its intended purpose.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic yesterday, the National President of GUPS, Mr Wisdom Gmayan, said even though the union was fully in support of the free SHS initiative, any attempt to use the GHF would be problematic.
“The stance of GUPS is that government should rather look at other innovative funding mechanisms that will guarantee the sustainability of this all-important education policy,” he said.