During question time at the recently held Graphic Business/Stanbic Bank Breakfast Meeting at the Labadi Beach Hotel on the theme: A Public-Private Dialogue On Stability, Growth and Jobs, Senior Minister Yaw Osafo-Maafo responded to a question on how the government intended to fund its proposed Free Senior High School programme.
His response, in sum, was that the government was going to review The Petroleum Act to enable it use part of the Heritage Fund to finance the policy expected to be rolled out in September, this year. The response has since become the grain of public discourse, with Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta suggesting the government has no intention to use the fund. Below is a verbatim transcription of Osafo Maafo's response at the forum.
"...The Petroleum Act, as a matter of fact, that Act will be revisited, and I completely agree with the Professor. You see we must use the resources of the petroleum industry to solve our problems which will make us develop better into the future. After all what is heritage fund? Heritage is protection against the future. What is more heritage than good education? Therefore, if you divert part of the heritage fund to give children of Ghana good education, you are doing the right heritage concept. And therefore we are going to revisit the Petroleum Act, and look at reallocating some of the resources in the heritage fund and earmarking some of them to solve some pressing problems of the country, it is important. You see a euro invested in bonds in Brussels or in Germany, purchasing power in 2016 will be very different in 2080.
"You may recall that the dollar also depreciates, and I'm telling you that, what the dollar could buy 10 years ago, today it cannot buy. Therefore investing the money outside does not give it that full protection. If we need to use the money productively, to create better education for ourselves, to create employment for ourselves, to me is much better in terms of thinking heritage. Therefore we are going to revisit that Act and see the best way to take part of the heritage fund to give the country a better education, free education, create jobs, etc, etc."