Business News of Wednesday, 21 November 2018
The government will have difficulties funding the Free Senior High School (SHS) programme with oil revenue in the event that there are deficits in petroleum revenue receipts, energy think tank Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), has said.
A few weeks ago, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo said his administration has so far used GHC455.9 million of oil revenue for the Free Senior High School policy as part of his government’s efforts to create assets, and not waste oil money on consumption and the accumulation of debt.
According to President Akufo-Addo, “We are investing revenues from oil in one of the most ambitious social programmes of our country’s history, i.e. the Free Senior High School policy. In the 2018 budget, GHC455.9 million of petroleum revenues was allocated to the Free SHS programme.”
The President stressed that: “Free SHS is ensuring that our oil revenues are being equitably distributed to our people, and not ending up in the pockets of a few. The most important resource of any nation is its people.”
He continued, “Investing in our children and in the future of our country is the most appropriate investment any Government can make, and we are fully committed to continuing on this path.”
But in its assessment of the 2019 budget statement presented to parliament on Thursday, 15 November 2018 by Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta, ACEP said:
“ABFA funds under education have been committed to goods and services under the Free SHS programme. Bearing in mind that the double track system was introduced as a stopgap measure for infrastructure deficit in second cycle education, expending entire allocation of oil revenues for the sector on goods and services while government’s commitment to CAPEX as a share of total budgetary allocation to the sector is 0.07% is very alarming.”
“Again, that the Free SHS programme to be funded solely with receipts from the ABFA raises questions of sustainability.”
“In the event of deficits in petroleum revenue receipts, the Free SHS programme could suffer. It is prudent to identify more stable revenue sources for the programme to cushion it against shocks occasioned by revenue shortfalls from petroleum resources.”