Senior Minister Dr. Yaw Osarfo Marfo has hinted that government will review the Heritage Fund Component in the Petroleum Management Act in order to use the proceeds to finance its Free Senior High School (SHS) policy.
According to him, the decision has become necessary because government wants to invest a significant revenue generated from the oil industry to fund major sectors like education since it has the potential of building a good foundation for the country.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo announced over the weekend that government would fund the cost of public SHS for all those who qualify for entry from the 2017/2018 academic year onwards.
He explained once the policy comes into effect, there will be no admission fees, no library fees, no science centre fees, no computer lab fees, no examination fees and no utility fees.
Spelling out the details of the policy “so that no one in Ghana is left in any doubts”, President Akufo-Addo added that in addition to tuition which is already free, there will be free textbooks, free boarding and free meals, and day students will get a meal at school for free.”
“Free SHS will also cover agricultural, vocational and technical institutions at the high school level. I also want to state clearly again that we have a well-thought-out plan that involves the building of new public Senior High Schools and cluster public Senior High Schools,” he added.
Education experts have questioned the source of funds in carrying out one of the key campaigning promise of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in 2012 as well as 2016 election.
The cost of the policy is yet to be known, but the last time government absorbed part of the fees, it paid GHC12million which was the cost of implementing the policy for 313,301 day students.
However, Mr Marfo speaking to JOYBUSINESS after he made a presentation on the upcoming budget at the just ended Business Breakfast meeting on the theme “a public-private dialogue on stability, growth and jobs” said government would look out for different ways of generating revenue in order not to burden on the taxpayer.
The business breakfast meeting is part of series of engagements organized by the Graphic Communication Group in partnership with Stanbic Bank Ghana to bring government and businesses together to discuss issues relating to the economy.
In a related development, the Senior Minister Osarfo Marfo has downplayed the assertions that major tax cuts by the government will result to financial loopholes in government revenue.
According to him, the government in its 2017 budget will abolish taxes like the special import levy, 5 Percent tax on real estate and reduce the 17.5 percent VAT on small and micro businesses to a flat rate of 3 percent.
“We are going to remove the taxes we will reduce some and bring some,” he said adding “government will introduce a lot of measures to maximize revenue” he ended.