IN SEARCH OF A SUSTAINABLE SOURCE OF FUNDING FOR FREE SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL!

The Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, last week put to rest the argument over the use (or not to use) the Heritage Fund to finance the free Senior High School (SHS) education policy of the government.

The Finance Minister put an end to the debate by declaring that the government was committed to financing the policy without looking at the Heritage Fund.

Mr. Ofori-Atta, who was reacting to the debate that had ensued following an earlier statement by the Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo Marfo, suggesting that the government may resort to use the fund if need be, to ensure the realisation of the policy, added that, government was not bent on touching the Heritage Fund.

The emphatic statement by the Finance Minister must end all the debate on the use of the Heritage Fund, which was established primarily as a strategic endowment reserve “to support the development of future generations when Ghana’s petroleum reserves are depleted”.

It was established under the Petroleum Revenue Management Act of 2011, in which nine per cent of the country’s annual petroleum revenue is lodged.

Now that the Finance Minister has brought clarity to matters surrounding the financing of the policy, the Times believes that the nation’s focus should now be turned to how the free SHS would be funded.

Indeed, Mr. Ofori-Atta set the tone for a discussion when he stated that “I think we have enough resources from our envelope to be able to carry out the free SHS without touching the Heritage Fund”.

We are glad the there are other sources of financing the policy, and that the non-usage of the Heritage Fund would in no way affect the implementation of the policy.

It is also reassuring that the Finance Minister has indicated that details of how the government intends to finance the project would be provided in the budget to be presented to Parliament in March.

With these assurances, we are sure that all political parties, civil society groups and individuals, who are opposed to the use of the Heritage Fund, would be content that the government gave them a listening ear in the matter.

Moving forward, however, it is our expectation that we all support the government’s effort in harnessing financial options for the policy since the entire nation supports the free SHS policy.

Without doubt, everyone believes it is a good policy, even though some prefer different approaches to its implementation. We have to support the government to roll out the policy successfully.

The success of the free SHS policy would be of immense benefit to all Ghanaian school going children.

We must all, therefore, support the search for a sustainable funding for the policy, which is expected to begin next September.

 

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