Government’s U-turn on Heritage Fund good news – ACEP

Head of Policy Unit and Energy Policy Advisor at the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP),Ishmael Ackah has said the Akufo-Addo government;s decision not to use the Heritage Fund in financing the Free Senior High School programme is a step in the right direction.

His comment follows assurances given by Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta that the government will not use the Heritage Fund in funding the Free SHS policy.

“We are financing the Free SHS without looking at the Heritage Fund”, Ofori-Atta told journalists.

Mr Ofori-Atta’s clarification followed a comment by Senior Minister Yaw Osafo Marfo that the government may rely on the oil kitty to fund the Free SHS policy.

Mr Osafo Marfo stated at a forum in Accra on Tuesday, 14 February that: “We have to make an amendment to say that X per cent of the Heritage Fund, or the Petroleum Fund will be used to support second cycle education. If we think that industry requires a certain stimulus that will enable jobs to be created and you are creating a job to build Ghana, you can look at it and put in a certain amount. We are [also] looking at agriculture.”

Speaking on Accra News in relation to the comments by the Minister of Finance on Friday, 17 February, Mr Ackah said: “It is good news to all of us that the government has said it will not use the Heritage Fund to fund the free SHS.”

“We all know that a chunk of the oil revenue goes to the government and the law permits the government to use it in not more than four priority areas, and, so, the government can prioritize education with the over 70 per cent revenue that comes to its coffers without touching the Heritage Fund.

“I feel this is a good step taken by the government. That notwithstanding, the government should give us the funding mechanism for the Free Senior High School programme and how it intends sustaining the programme.”