Stay off Heritage Fund – Minority MPs roar; vow to resist its use for Free SHS

The minority members in parliament say they will 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 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. At a news conference Thursday afternoon, the minority in parliament registered its disapproval to the decision, stating they will “resist any attempt to amend the PRMA for this purpose [free SHS financing]”. Ranking Member of the Finance Committee of Parliament, Ato Forson who address the media described as “incompetent and lazy man’s approach,” the plan to use the Heritage Fund to redeem the campaign promise. “It is obvious that the Heritage Fund, its investment and the amounts accrued so far would be woefully inadequate to meet the close to 1 billion dollars required annually to underwrite the free SHS programme,” he said. TV3’s parliamentary correspondent, Evelyn Tengmaa reported that the minority have consequently asked the government to stay off the Heritage Fund, contending is reserved as savings for the future generation since petroleum resources are not renewable.“We cannot sit idle whilst the NPP attempt to mortgage our future for their partisan objectives,” Mr Forson stated. Mr Forson challenged the argument that the Fund is set aside from the country’s fiscal management, saying that is “erroneous” because a critical examination of the fiscal table in the budget shows otherwise. “The withdrawal of the Heritage Fund is likely to have a negative impact on the country’s reserves, the value of the currency and will lead to a likely de-stabilsation of the macro economic and fiscal situation of the country,” he stated. He suggested that the Akufo-Addo government, which is just a month into office, has run out of ideas as to how to fund its flagship campaign promise of offering free SHS education. “We in the NDC would like to offer them free advice to rather reallocate the distribution of national resources from sectors they regard as non-priority to their campaign promises.

READ ALSO:  'Malams' taking over social media
By Stephen Kwabena Effah| ]]>