The education sector has been deprived of some GH¢5.7billion revenue key for the provision of infrastructure and the elimination of numerous schools under trees between the period 2018 and 2023 – an amount enough to eliminate over 5,400 schools under trees.
This is because capping the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) – the statutory funding source for the provision of education infrastructure – in 2018 has led to the sector losing over GH¢5.7bn; which would have been key to the provision of desks for basic schools, textbooks for new curriculums, and classroom blocks for deprived community schools.
The 2017 earmarked funds capping and realignment act (Act 947), which placed a 25 percent cap on the GETFund, reduced inflows to the sector; and the current review of the earmarked act that seeks to increase this cap to 70 percent will further worsen the infrastructure situation in most schools across the country.
If not addressed urgently, millions of school-going children could face the risk of not having access to education infrastructure.
Statistics show that about 5,000 schools still operate under trees and in dilapidated structures across the country, while over 4,000 primary schools have no junior high schools (JHS); a situation that has led to an increase of pupils terminating their education after primary six. Stakeholders believe this lost revenue would have solved at least half of all these challenges.
Against this backdrop, civil society organisations (CSOs) working in the education sector have described the decision as a major setback to achieving complementary basic education financing.
According to a 2021 project by the Ghana Education Service (GES) and VALCO Trust Fund (VTF), it will require about GH¢3.5billion to construct all 5,403 schools over five years. However, only two percent of the funding is presently available.
Meanwhile more than that amount – GH¢5.7billion – was diverted to other sectors from the education fund within the same period. There is therefore a need to uncap the GETFund and explore alternative means of acquiring reliable funding the education infrastructure needs.
Executive Director of Africa Education Watch (Eduwatch) Kofi Asare, a leading voice against capping the GETFund, is of the view that government should completely remove the cap on receivables since the restriction has denied the statutory funding vehicle for educational projects and programmes enough resources to complete existing projects and embark on new ones at the basic level.
“Since 2018, an average 40 percent of GETFund Levy accruals is diverted annually by the Minister of Finance to other sectors. By 2022, GH¢3.7billion was lost to other sectors.
“A strict application of the amended Act 974 could see up to 80 percent of GETFund Levy accruals diverted for budgetary support in other sectors. The implication is that GETFund cannot create the fiscal space to adequately fund infrastructure interventions for enrolling and retaining children in formal basic schools, as 2,000 schools are needed to absorb one million out-of-school children (OOSC) and over 5,000 basic schools under trees and sheds,” he stressed.
So far, in 2023 about GH¢2.8billion of GETFund accruals have been diverted to other sectors by kind courtesy of the capping policy. In the previous year, though GH¢2.6billion was allocated to the fund from the total accruals, only GH¢1.8 billion representing 56 percent of the total accrual was allocated – contrary to the 25 percent stipulated in the act.
Gov’t to restrict importation of rice, ‘yemuadie’ and other products
The government is set to lay before Parliament today, November 21, a Constitutional Instrument (C.I) seeking to restrict the importation of selected strategic products into the country.
The items, numbering over 20, will include rice, tripe (popularly called “yemuadie” in Ghana), and diapers.
The government said the move is part of efforts to enhance local production.
Speaking during a press briefing in Parliament, the Minister of Trade and Industry, K.T Hammond said, “Stomach of animals, bladder and the chunk of intestines (yemuadie), the country had had to put in an amount of about $164 million towards the importation of these items. We are taking steps to ensure that in terms of rice, there’s no poverty of rice in the country.”
He emphasized, “By these restrictions, we are not going to ensure that there’s no food in the country at all; that is not the point at all. There have to be some efforts by the government to ensure that we go back to Acheampong’s operation feed yourself. There are about 22 items on the list, one of them, I think, is diapers.”
He announced the introduction of the Ghana Standards Authority Regulations 2023, which also seeks to streamline the manufacturing of cement to ensure competitive pricing.
Mahama doesn’t understand 24hr economy; don’t vote for him – Bawumia
Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia says former President John Dramani Mahama does not understand the 24-hour economy policy he is proposing.
According to the Vice President, that policy is already being implemented in the country, as hospitals, fuel companies, among others, operate a 24-hour system.
Dr. Bawumia, therefore, urged Ghanaians to ignore Mahama during the 2024 polls since he has nothing new to offer and vote for the New Patriotic Party.
“John Mahama says he has a new idea. What is the idea? He says he wants a 24-hour economy. He doesn’t even understand that policy. Today in Ghana, our hospitals work 24 hours, our electricity company works 24 hours, our water company works 24 hours, our fuel stations work 24 hours, and many chop bars work 24 hours. Today because of digitalisation, you can transfer money 24 hours, you can receive money 24 hours… So he doesn’t understand his own policy. It doesn’t make sense.”
“So I want you to vote for me in 2024 because I will bring a new vision, I will bring a new policy. Mahama is the past, Dr Bawumia is the future. If John Mahama was there, we would say we have a dumsor economy, you can’t have a 24-hour economy in dumsor. So, you want to vote for Dr Bawumia in 2024, we will take the country to new heights,” Dr Bawumia stated.
Bagbin rebukes IMF over alleged pressure to pass some bills under certificate of urgency
The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, has accused the International Monetary Fund (IMF) of pressuring the House to pass a number of bills under a certificate of urgency.
Mr. Bagbin cited bills such as the Affirmative Action Bill, which is allegedly being pushed by the IMF as part of the conditionality for the balance of the $3 billion credit facility for Ghana.
Speaking at the Speaker’s Breakfast Meeting on Monday, Alban Bagbin insisted that the House will not be coerced by the IMF to pass the bill.
“Even in this budget, you can see the arm of the IMF in a lot of provisions in the budget. A critical bill like the Affirmative Action Gender Equality Bill has come to Parliament under a certificate of urgency. Please, it won’t happen; we won’t pass it under a certificate of urgency.”
“There are critical stakeholders we must consult and make sure we go together. We will not be dictated by the IMF; that one, you can be assured. This is a very critical bill that the IMF should know that we need the buy-in of the stakeholders to be able to implement it,” Alban Bagbin said.
The Affirmative Action Bill, when passed into law, would seek to expunge the historically low representation of women in decision-making spaces and promote democracy and development through all-inclusive participation.