…Hauls Struggling GHc1.2 Free SHS Away To The Presidency

The Minority Leader in Parliament, Hon. Haruna Iddrisu, has mocked that, placing the struggling free senior high school (SHS) programme under the supervision of the Office of the President, smacked of nothing, but the level of lack of confidence the President have in his ministers.

According to him, under normal circumstances, it was expected that a government flagship programme, like the Free SHS, should have been spearheaded by the Education Minister, but that could not be said in the present circumstance as the programme is being rolled on by a secretariat answerable to the government machine.

The Minority Leader made the comments when he took his turn on the debate on the 2018 budget statement on the floor of parliament in Accra yesterday.

In a final debate before the approval, Hon. Iddrisu took stitches out of the policies and programme outlines in the budget, faulting the President for naming programmes after himself in the statement.

Citing several inconsistencies and illegalities in the budget, the Tamale South MP argued that, the  Free SHS  Programme has been placed under office of government machinery which simply  means the President does not have confidence in his ministers.

“Mr. Speaker, again, we all know the Minister for Finance presents this policy document to this house on behalf of the President. Mr. Speaker, I don’t want to believe the President doesn’t have faith in his minister.”

“For instance, we all know the free senior high school has been taken away from the Ministry of Education. Matthew Opoku Prempeh, I hope you are aware free senior high school is not under your watch. I hope this is not an expression of no confidence, if you are not aware, Matthew Opoku, if you are not aware, you read the budget,” he stated.

But in defence of his office, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh, explained that it was a normal practice and that the free SHS policies not under his watch was nothing different from similar ones which have been under the Scholarship Secretariat.

Hon. Iddrisu also raised the concern of the government’s budgetary allocation for the National Builders’ Corps, stating it was, “nothing to write home about.”

He said the minority’s calculations indicated that, each of the 100,000 youths to be recruited under the program, would receive a little over GH¢400, which is woefully inadequate.

“Mr. Speaker, the said graduates will not take home more than GHc400, this is dangerous. Mr. Speaker, that GHc600,000 they intend to fund the programme with is not coming from the government of Ghana. It is going to be taken from the district assembly common fund. You’re going to constrain the district assemblies just for the purpose of funding it.”

“This, in my opinion, is an extension of the national service scheme. As we know this government has a Senior Minister, so the Nation Builders Corps are also going to be senior youth employment beneficiaries,” he mocked.

The Minority leader also served notice that, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) had worked hard and left a strong economy to the nation, but the current government is now engaged in illegality to loot the state with nonexistent institutions.

He further contended that, government had made provision for Ghana Bauxite and Aluminum Authority with a budget allocation of GHc13million and another allocation of GHc400 million for GRISI, for agriculture insurance,  which in his view does not exist and that the NDC minority would resist such illegalities at the appropriation level.

The Minority MPs have always insisted the finance minister breached the Public Finance Management Act 921 in the presentation of the mid-year budget review

Mr. Haruna Iddrisu, who is also MP for Tamale South, took a swipe at the government for engaging in excessive borrowing to cushion the economy, noting, “the government is at best good in slogans rather than addressing some of the developmental challenges.”

He chided the Akufo-Addo government for not adding a single megawatt onto the energy sector but goes about claiming it has stabilized the power supply problems in the country.

Mr. Iddrisu also raised several issues in the rural electrification, roads, development funds, and the private sector and urged the government to tailor the budget to more economic beneficial sector to build the country.

He said, though the government established the various developmental funds, the Zongo Development Fund has been under resourced to undertake the projects to serve its purpose of its establishment.

In his submission, the Majority Leader Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu extolled the virtues of the 2018 budget, arguing it holds the key to the progress of the nation.

He also accused the minority of engaging in pedestrian arguments and that the budget would help address most of the challenges the government inherited from the John Mahama NDC led government.

He, however, praised his colleagues from both sides of the House for subjecting the statement to intense scrutiny before it was approved.

“I want to show appreciation to my colleagues in the House, Majority and Minority for the scrutiny that they applied to the budget before us. We are going to deal with the estimates and I want to implore all my colleagues to be in attendance at all the Committee meetings in order for us to be able to deal with the estimates that have been given to the various Committees,” he said.

After the approval of the budget, the various Committees in Parliament would now be tasked with assessing the estimates and allocations made to the various sectors in the budget.

Among the major programs to be rolled out by the government in 2018, are tax reliefs for private universities, tax holidays for young entrepreneurs, proposed 13% to 21% reduction in electricity tariff for residential consumers, the establishment of nation-building corps and operationalization of the Special Prosecutors’ office.

The budget, christened the ‘Adwuma Budget,’ focuses mainly on revenue mobilization through strict tax collection modules and job creation.



Source: Engsalige Nyaaba

The Republic News Online

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