Over Free SHS Rescue Plan
Information Minister, Mustapha Hamid, has shown disrespect to Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, over his proposal that the government’s Free Secondary Education Policy be altered by getting parents with financial muscle to pay for the cost of educating their wards.
Mustapha Hamid, had charged on the proposal saying “forget it, it is not going to happen. The Finance Minister doesn’t have the locus. His opinion is dead.”
Mr Ofori-Atta, the Finance Minister, suggested that the policy, could be more financially prudent if it targeted low income families.
Mr Ofori-Atta, speaking on Citi TV, said: “I don’t think it [Free SHS] is something any of us can compromise on”, adding that: “It may be that there have to be changes in the way in which we are administering it”.
“True, it may be that there have to be changes in the way we are administering it. I can’t take my child to Achimota or Odorgono and leave him or her there and drive away and not pay for anything whiles I can pay for ten people,” said Mr. Ofori-Atta.
Speaking about the next academic year, he said: “You actually going to have, maybe, 180,000 more people but it’s so important, you’d rather make that mistake – if it is a mistake – to get everybody in the system for the nation to then begin to have a conversation and say: ‘OK, this is good for us because we want that human capital and to a certain level, but maybe let’s begin to adjust it this way’”
His comments came as the government introduced the double track policy, which is meant to compensate for infrastructure deficit in secondary schools.
Prof. Stephen Adei, former rector of Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) agreed with Mr Ofori-Atta saying “the only thing is that it is difficult to assess the income of people in Ghana, apart from those in formal employment”.
“It makes sense but it is not going to be easy to implement such a suggestion. If you are not careful, you will find out that a few higher income-earning people [on] whose salary, taxes have been increased, are going to be the same persons who will fall into that bracket.
“It is a dicey issue, I don’t see why a billionaire should be having their children go to school for free.”
But during a meet the press in the Northern Region, Mustapha Hamid, insisted the only person who’s opinion matters on the issue was that of President Nana Akufo-Addo.
“The person who’s vision we are all driving is the vision of the President of the Republic and the President of the Republic’s vision is that every person whose child who goes to secondary school must go to secondary school for free. The Finance Minister’s opinion does not stand in the face of the President’s vision. So forget it, it is not going to happen. The Finance Minister doesn’t have the locus. His opinion is dead.”
Beyond this, Mustapha Hamid, said it was not even within the remit of the Finance Minister to make suggestions on education policies.
This is despite Mr Ofori-Atta, making an argument based around the financing of the policy.
“It is not even in his bosom to bring an educational matter to Cabinet. It is only the Education Minister. So he can only go and lobby the education minister to come to Cabinet… and there is no cabinet decision that must go contrary to the NPP manifesto. Finish,” Mustapha Hamid remarked.
In the Finance Minister’s submission on Point of View, he stressed that the government’s vision was paramount in the matter.
“Each soul is important. You would rather make that mistake, if it was a mistake to get everybody in the system for the nation to then begin to have a conversation and say this is good for us because we want our human capital to be at a certain level but maybe, let’s begin to adjust it this way.”
Mr Ofori-Atta, noted that before the government could move away from the way the policy is currently being implemented, it needed to “get the data to then be discriminatory in how and who pays and who doesn’t pay.”