Government says it has no intention to roll back the Free SHS programme, in spite of the economic challenges facing the country.
At a press conference last Thursday, the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta said, Government would rather do more to improve the programme not just to enroll a lot more Junior High School graduates but also serve Ghanaian children better.
He said Government considered education as the best enabler for sustainable economic transformation and growth and would do what it takes to make it better for the Ghanaian child.
On the details of Government’s measures to address the current global economic challenges that have affected many economies including Ghana, Mr. Ofori-Atta said government has decided to reduce margins in the petroleum price build-up by 15 pesewas per litre, with effect from 1st April to cushion motorists.
In addition to this, he said, the National Petroleum Authority (NPA), was in discussion with the Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs), to reduce their margins within the spirit of burden-sharing.
The Finance Minister said Government will ensure consistent supply of fuel and manage the rate of ex-pump price increase by ensuring that the Bank of Ghana (BoG), has access to adequate foreign exchange.
Also, he announced that all political appointees and heads of government institutions, including state-owned enterprises (SOEs) would cut their fuel allocation by 50 percent with effect from 1st April 2022.
He said Cabinet has approved that Ministers of State and heads of SOEs pay 30 percent of their salaries to the Consolidated Fund from April to December 2022.
Mr Ofori-Atta also said Government has placed a complete moratorium on the purchase of imported vehicles, which included new orders for the rest of the year.
“We will ensure that the overall effect is to reduce total vehicle purchases by the public sector by at least 50 percent for the period,” he added.
he said Government would embark on aggressive income mobilisation such as the implementation and collection of the revised Property and the E-VAT/E-Commerce/E-Gaming initiatives by the end of April 2022, amongst others to increase revenue.
He implored on Parliament to fast track the passage of the E-Levy Bill, Tax Exemptions Bill, and Fees and Charges Bill to raise money for the State.
On financing, Mr Ofori-Atta said Government would conclude an external financing arrangement of up to US$2 billion in the next two-to-six weeks in line with approved external financing for 2022.
Government, the Finance Minister assured, would pursue reforms to address structural challenges in public financial management including procurement and commitment control, payroll management and human resource management.
He said Government would liaise with the organized labour and Employers Association to implement the measures captured in the Kwahu Declaration of the 2022 National Labour Conference to address salary inequalities in the public sector.
On the currency measures, he said, the Ministry of Finance would work with the Central Bank to review the foreign exchange retention policy to ensure that multinational companies in the extractive sectors retain their earnings in the country.
All these measures, the Finance Minister said, are aimed at ensuring that Government achieves the 7.4% deficit target set in the 2022 budget.
Rex Mainoo Yebaoh