Seth Terkper, former Finance Minister under the erstwhile Mahama administration, has told the Akufo-Addo government to come clean with Ghanaians and tell them the truth about their source of funding for the Free Senior High School (SHS) programme.
The former Finance Minister remarks comes after the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), in May 2019, said the Free SHS programme has been removed by the government from the list of projects financed directly from Ghana’s oil cash fund – Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA).
Mr Terkper said, despite the above-mentioned claims, the government is still making use of the oil revenue to fund the Free SHS programme, therefore, the need for the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta to fill Ghanaians in on why that action was taken.
According to Seth Terkper, aside government taking money from ABFA, it has also borrowed US$2 billion from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to keep the Free SHS programme up and running.
Mr Terkper, looking out for response in the Finance Minister’s annual Mid-Year budget review to parliament Thursday, July 23, 2020, said “We hope that they give us the full cost of Free SHS because we know they are using oil money, and we know they use the sovereign bond, Annual Budget Funding Account (ABFA) part of it to finance Free SHS. I don’t think they’ve told us that they are going to borrow for Free SHS.”
“They said they will use their revenue so if they are borrowing as much as 2 billion for Free SHS, then they should tell the nation so that we know whether going forward, we are to borrow 2 billion every year for Free SHS,” he said in an exclusive interview.
Seth Terkper reiterated that he hopes the Finance Minister gives “full account of the oil money and the loan that they have received for Free SHS”.
While launching the Free SHS policy in 2017, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo said an amount of the country’s oil revenue money had been allocated to the Free SHS programme to ensure that the revenues are distributed evenly.
He said “We are investing revenues from oil in one of the most ambitious social programmes in our country’s history – i.e. the Free Senior High School policy. In the 2018 budget, GH¢455.9million of petroleum revenues was allocated to the Free SHS programme”.
However, in May last year, the government completely removed the Free SHS programme from the list of projects and policies financed directly from the oil cash-funded Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA).
The Annual Budget Funding Account (ABFA) is the account set up by the government that receives allocations from oil and gas revenue in support of government budgets.