Group welcomes U-turn on financing free SHS with Heritage Fund

A civil society group in the oil sector has welcomed government’s decision not to use the Heritage Fund to finance its proposed free Senior High School programme. An endowment reserve, the Fund, which is 9 per cent of petroleum revenues, was established by the PRMA to support the development of Ghana’s future generations when the country’s petroleum reserves are depleted. But the Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo Maafo this week revealed that the government intends to review the Heritage Fund component of the Act (893) to finance the audacious free education programme of the Akufo-Addo government. Many Ghanaians have questioned the decision, and asked the government to abandon same, citing various reasons including grounds of bad faith, considering the broader consultations that went into the establishment of the Act. READ: Stay off Heritage Fund – Minority MPs roar The minority members in parliament on Thursday also vowed to resist any attempt by the government to amend the Petroleum Revenue Management Act (PRMA) to enable it use proceeds from the Heritage Fund to finance the free SHS. In the midst of the protest, Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Attah, dismissed the suggestion that the proceeds from the Fund would be used to finance the programme. Responding to the latest development, the Civil Society Platform on Oil and Gas (CSPOG), said the decision would have undermined the national consensus on how much of the oil revenue to spend now and how much to save against the future. It said “any arbitrary amendment of the law, using a party’s sheer majority in parliament, would have set a bad precedent for future retaliatory revisions of the same law, to suit party political expediencies of the time”. A statement issued by the group Friday said the change of mind signifies government’s responsiveness to public concerns, and its respect for citizens’ right to democratic participation in decision-making. Meanwhile, it said national dialogue on financing options for the free SHS wouldn’t be out of place and that if the enrolment and cost data available to government were shared, it will make for a more informed debate on the programme’s viability in the immediate, medium to long term.

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