THE Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, has stated that a total of GH¢12.2 billion has been spent over the past 32 months on social intervention programmes and other initiatives by the Akufo-Addo government to cushion Ghanaians against high cost of living and hardship.
He said most of these initiatives and social interventions which had put monies either directly or indirectly into the pockets of many Ghanaians included the Free Senior High School (Free SHS), Planting for Food and Jobs and subsidy for the BECE registration fee.
Presenting the 2020 Budget Statement and Financial Policy of government in Parliament on Wednesday, Mr. Ofori-Atta disclosed that Free SHS had saved parents a total of GH¢1.8 billion over the past three years, and that constituted money in their pockets.
According to him, Planting for Food and Jobs had saved farmers a total of GH¢844 million over the past three years for subsidized fertilizer; besides, a total of GH¢357 million was put into the pockets of teacher trainees in the form of allowances.
He continued that a total of GH¢336 million had also been put into the pockets of nursing trainees within the period in the form of allowance that was cancelled by the erstwhile Mahama administration.
Scrapped trainees allowances
Former President John Dramani Mahama scrapped the nurse and teacher trainee allowances and replaced them with the students’ loan scheme, describing the allowances as “high cost implication” for his government.
“The problem with this allowance was that apart from the huge cost implication for the national budget, it also compelled government over the years to scale down the number of students entering into the colleges of education, through the imposition of what we call the quota system,” he told his audience at the University of Education, Winneba, during his accounting to the people tour in 2016.
But the Akufo-Addo government restored the allowances in fulfillment of its campaign.
The Finance Minister said apart from the allowances, government also subsidized the registration fee of BECE candidates and that saved parents a total of GH¢65 million over the past two years and that was money in their pockets.
On electricity, the electricity tariff reductions effected by the PURC effective March 15, 2018, resulted in savings of GH¢1.8 billion for a year, for residential and non-residential customers and this was money in their pockets, he noted.
Mr. Ofori-Atta added that the reduction and abolition of taxes (including the 50% reduction in import duty) had also saved taxpayers a total of GH¢4.1 billion over the past three years, and that again constituted money in their pockets.
According to him, government had also created over 350,000 jobs in the public sector (including the 100,000 NABCO graduates) which have provided total earnings of GH¢2.9 billion to the beneficiaries.
By Ernest Kofi Adu