As the brouhaha over the sustainability of funding for the free Senior High School programme rages on, an economist has sought to be a voice of reason.
Amidst the government’s announcement that the funding line for Free SHS is a combination of oil money and the Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA), Dr. John Gatsi of the University of Cape Coast Business School, is recommending a special tax for the programme as a more reliable financial muscle.
“There is the need to ensure fairness through funding for the programme. The introduction of a special indirect tax for free SHS is the tool to ensure fairness as the benefits of the policy to a Minister of State or a Bank Manager is more than a teacher teaching in my hometown,” Dr. Gatsi wrote yesterday.
Inferably, the special indirect tax would provide an even field for fair contribution to the funding line for the programme.
As Dr. Gatsi has cited the need to ensure fair contributions to the funding by members of different classes of society, it appears he is also asking that a Value Added Tax vehicle be used.
According to Dr. Gatsi, who is also a lawyer, the Akufo-Addo-led government deserves praise for braving the implementation of the Free SHS, even though predecessor governments, especially the Mahama-led Government, prepared the foundation.
“It is true in my opinion that the process leading to the implementation of free SHS in Ghana did not start today. Those who invested in infrastructure, the training of teachers and provision of teaching and learning materials, contributed greatly.
“The previous government invested a lot in school infrastructure and teaching and learning materials with progressive reduction in fees as well as targeted investment in the teaching of Science. However, the golden truth is that the implementation of the free SHS in its current form is an achievement by the current government.
“The implementation is not perfect but it gives meaning to Article 25 of the 1992 Constitution,” Dr. Gatsi wrote.
He decried the brouhaha over who really is entitled to bragging rights over Free SHS, saying even as all governments have contributed to realizing the programme which is a constitutional prescription, it is important that now that it has been introduced collective effort are made to sustain it.
According to him, any policy that any political party spawns in place while in government becomes the collective responsibility of all governments, irrespective of party.
“The next step is to focus on quality, improvement in teacher- welfare and financial sustainability of the policy. While all political parties are at liberty to outline their specific contributions to the new meaning of free SHS, it is proper to note that social intervention policies like governance of a country, is a continuous process thus the burden of managing this policy will change from one election period to another.
“Just as social intervention programmes introduced by NPP were later managed and enhanced by NDC, same applies to those introduced by NDC are being managed by NPP.”
The economist-cum-lawyer urged opposition parties to shift their strategies from claiming bragging rights to advocating better management of the programme, advising that government must also focus on getting more reliable funding for the programme.
He said he was not in doubt at all that the programme is sustainable, pointing out that the predecessor NDC government’s successful start of the programme at progressive pace is demonstration that the programme is indeed sustainable.
According to him, that sustainability lies in smart funding line and that a special tax for the programme would be that smart funding line.
Source: therepublicnewsonline.com/Fiifi Samuels