Identify alternative sources of funding for free SHS—ACEP
The African Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) has implored the new government to identify alternative sources of funding for its free Senior High School policy other than the Heritage Fund.
Quite specifically, the energy think-tank has asked government to amend the Petroleum Revenue Management Act (PRMA) to allow 50 percent of the Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA) to support the programme.
This, according to the think-tank, will be a more equitable way of distributing the resources than financing “ghost project” through thin distribution of oil revenues.
“Also, government should take steps to streamline the operations of Ghana National Petroleum Commission to focus on its core mandate and redirect some of its allocation into the budget to finance education.
“Government could introduce a governance framework similar to the PRMA on mineral revenues and allocate a portion of revenue from the sector to finance education,” a statement from centre copied to the B&FT.
According the think-tank, the principle of intergenerational, equity which informed the establishment of the fund, was to ensure that ownership of the resources is shared among the living and the yet unborn as well ensure sustained revenue flow after the oil has been exhausted.
The Heritage Fund represents about 9 percent of Benchmark Revenue (BR), leaving 91 percent of the BR for the national budget and the ACEP argues that the conservative amount left for the future should not attract uncontrolled appetite to spend.
“For the past six years, the total payments made into the fund plus interest is $277 million. This is not enough to fund only about 3 years of the cost items to be waived by government estimated to be about GHS327million, holding the 2015 enrolment constant.
With anticipated growth in enrolment occasioned by the programme, the heritage fund could be woefully inadequate to sustain the free SHS programme.
Given that most of the cost items for the implementation of the Free SHS are recurrent expenditures, government will have to amend the law to be able to spend more that 30 percent of the ABFA,” the statement read.
ACEP also called on government to commit more resources to the education sector which has seen less than less budgetary allocations over the years.
“Government must recognise that the capital budget of the education sector has been lower than 6 percent of the total sector budget in recent past; therefore, education sector financing should equally be big on improving the asset base of the sector.