A former Trade Minister, Dr. Ekwow Spio Garbrah believes the hitches that have marred the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government’s implementation of the free secondary education policy are due to the lack of planning.
In an interview with Citi News, he said this was evidenced by the fact the government is yet to clearly declare the cost and funding for the policy.“Today that Free SHS has started, even the total cost is still not known and where the money is going to come from is still not known,” Dr. Spio Garbrah stated.
He recalled that in 2012, when President Nana Akufo-Addo was a presidential candidate, he could not disclose the cost of the free SHS when asked on the BBC’s HardTalk program.
Dr. Spio Garbrah’s cohorts in the opposition National Democratic Congress have also accused the government of reneging on the free SHS promise because it was later announced that it would not cover continuing students.
Dr. Spio Garbrah noted that “the timing and execution of all these things have become a challenge partly because of the poor planning that took place and the very interesting promises which are not easy to execute.”
“When government got around to actually examining who should actually benefit from Free SHS, they realised that they could not give to all students so second and third-year students will have to pay their fees like normal.”
As far as funding is concerned, the government allocated GHc 480 million for the policy in the 2017 budget.
President Akufo-Addo, at the launch of the policy on Tuesday, indicated that government has “decided to use the proceeds from our natural resources” to invest in the policy.
Challenge to revenue generation
The free SHS implementation, coupled with the NPP’s removal and slashing of various taxes would have implications for revenue generation, Dr. Spio Garbrah said.
“If you promise free SHS and then in the first three or four months, because you have also promised remove taxes or reduces them, you go and remove and reduce all kinds of taxes then by the first half of the year, you find that you have actually gotten less revenue than you expected and your revenue targets have been missed.”
By: Jessica Ayorkor Aryee/Delali Adogla-Bessa/citifmonline.com/Ghana