We’ll Review All Flagship Programmes, Including Free SHS – Akufo-Addo To IMF
Government has finally indicated that it is taking steps to review all flagship programmes, Free SHS as part of its objectives to strengthen fiscal policy.
According to government, “the decision for rationalisation will depend on the assessment of efficiency, effectiveness, and value for money for each programme” and for social programmes, it will rationalise and align the spending envelope with SDG targets.
“Flagship programs including 1 Village 1 Dam, 1 District 1 Warehouse, and Infrastructure for Poverty Eradication Project (IPEP) will also be reviewed and streamlined.
“Agenda 111 will be reprogrammed to be completed over five years (2022-27) in line with budgeted allocations to GIIF from ABFA for Health Infrastructure,” it stressed.
Speaking on the JoyFM Midday News, Information Minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah confirmed that government was considering a review of all existing flagship programmes, and has always been on the table. “To be honest this is not the first time that we have made and publicly expressed this intention and this commitment. So it covers all the sixteen flagship programs and it is a constant exercise of looking at the efficiency in terms of the spend, can we make some savings in terms of the spend, how much effectiveness are you achieving for every cedi you are spending on it and in terms of the value for money are you getting every cedis worth for what you are spending on.” he stated.
In IMF’s May 2023 country report on Ghana, it said the government had promised to “review all government flagship programmes and publish a strategy to decide their future course.”
JoyNews’ checks from the 2023 budget statement reveal government has listed 16 programmes as its flagship programmes projected to cost the state GH¢9.2 billion.
A further analysis of previous budget statements presented to parliament by the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta shows flagship programmes have enjoyed budgetary allocation worth GH¢33 billion in a span of three years (2020-2023).
The Free SHS programme is a key component of government’s flagship programmes and it is estimated to cost some GH¢2.9 billion. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has described the Free SHS as poorly targeted.
The IMF made this observation in its latest country report on Ghana.
According to the Fund, the Free Senior High School (SHS) flagship programme “which covers the full cost of secondary education, has helped increase enrollment but is poorly targeted.”
The IMF also disclosed that Ghana spends close to 4% of its GDP on education with good results in terms of enrollment but poor learning outcomes.
Key identified areas by the IMF which need potential improvement in education spending include strengthening primary education resources, better teacher training, and stronger performance-based funding practices.
JoyNews’ checks again revealed that the Free SHS programme has enjoyed a budgetary allocation of more than GHS11.3 billion since 2019.
In the 2023 budget, government demonstrated its commitment stating that the implementation of the Free SHS Programme remained unwavering.
It also mentioned that the “total number of beneficiaries currently stands at 1,308,816 students for the 2021/22 academic year.”
It added that in 2023, “government will continue with the implementation of the Free SHS Programme and continue to facilitate access to various educational items.”
Meanwhile, President Akufo-Addo, who spoke at a rally organised by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) ahead of the Kumawu by-election said President Mahama has been inconsistent in his position on the free SHS policy.
According to him, the NDC flagbearer has now shifted his argument from cancelling the programme to expanding it to include private second-cycle schools. The inconsistencies, he said, do not make former President Mahama trustworthy.
In July 2022, Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta said a review of the Free Senior High School policy remains a constant possibility.
He explained that the Education Ministry continues to look at the policy with the aim of understanding how parents can be included in a manner that is not coercive.
“Review is constantly a possibility on the table. And it’s just to make sure that the appropriate education is given and that wastage is eliminated and it goes to give us value for money,” Mr Ofori-Atta told Joy Business’ George Wiafe in an interview.