‘Free SHS tax’ will burden Ghanaians – Ablakwa

Former Deputy Minister of Education, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, has stated that the proposal for the introduction of a new tax specifically to support the government’s Free SHS programme will...

Former Deputy Minister of Education, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, has stated that the proposal for the introduction of a new tax specifically to support the government’s Free SHS programme will not be appropriate.

He however admitted that, there is the need for a dedicated source of funding for the programme if it is to be successful.

Mr. Ablakwa’s comment comes on the back of a suggestion by New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament for Effutu, Alex Afenyo Markin, that government could consider taxing Ghanaians in order to accrue funds to finance its flagship free Senior High School (SHS) policy.

According to him, sustaining the policy was so crucial that risking the anger of Ghanaians by imposing a special tax to fund it will not be out of order.

“We want to sustain the policy. The policy is at a cost to the state. If it means that at a point, some taxation should be imposed to sustain it, it wouldn’t be far-fetched. If I get any opportunity in government circles, I will suggest it,” the legislator has said.

Speaking on Eyewitness News on Tuesday, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa said it would be unfortunate to tax Ghanaians who were already struggling with the numerous tax obligations they are required to meet.

He argued that having a dedicated funding source for the programme should not necessarily result in the introduction of an additional tax.

“The tax is certainly going to increase the already ongoing hardship which Ghanaians are complaining about generally. If you talk to the business community, they are talking about the cost of doing business now being very high, importers are complaining that duties are going through the roof” he said.

Other sources

The government had in the 2018 budget statement, announced that it would set up a fund to receive voluntary contributions from individuals to support the implementation of the free SHS programme and the educational sector as a whole.

However, this plan has been criticized by the Minority who believe this is an indication that government does not have the funds to properly implement its much-touted programme.

The Member of Parliament for the North Tongu Constituency, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, said the government cannot afford to rely on voluntary contributions to fund education, particularly free SHS, as projections for those funds may not materialize.

“No country runs public education on just voluntary funds. What if the Fund is not considered attractive and you don’t really get as much as you are expecting. We can’t leave the destiny of our children’s quality education to just a voluntary fund where we don’t really know the projections. You cannot just depend on voluntary funds, you can’t run education that way. You need a concrete plan and you need a well-defined funding source. It’s clear that government is struggling to fund it and struggling to identify a clear funding source,” he had said.

The government has also been encouraged by ACEP to immediately pass the Mineral Revenue Management Act to serve as an additional source of funding for the programme.

“ACEP recommends that the government should pass the promised Mineral Revenue Management Act to create additional sources of funds from solid minerals to finance the free SHS policy,” the policy think tank stated in a 10-page document analyzing the 2018 budget with regards to oil and gas,” the think-tank said.

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