‘Exclude Ministers, MPs from Free SHS’

BY: Kweku Zurek

A member of the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC), Dr Steve Manteaw, has suggested that the Free SHS policy can be successfully targeted if the wards of Members of Parliament, Ministers and Directors of Public Institutions are excluded from beneficiaries.

According to him, reducing the gap between the rich and the poor with regard to Senior High School education can only be achieved if the wards of persons who are well to do are excluded.

Speaking on Friday at the Daily Graphic/STAR Ghana National Dialogue on Education in Takoradi, Dr Manteaw said one way to address such inequalities is through targeting affirmative action policies which will focus on how much individuals earn and whether they pay taxes.

"The (Education) Ministry's response is that they are not able to better target the poor with this policy (Free SHS)," Dr Manteaw said in response to a question about the best way to target beneficiaries of the Free SHS policy.

He added: "I have a suggestion for them. No Member of Parliament should qualify for free SHS, they earn in excess of 10,000 cedis a month. No Director of any public institution should qualify and we know them".

It will be recalled that the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta proffered a similar solution when he said that persons who can afford to pay the SHS fees under the policy be excluded.


Expanding the tax net                                                                                                                                                                Dr Manteaw also suggested that only registered tax payers be allowed to benefit from the policy.

"Again, we can get data from the Ghana Revenue Authority, we can say that anybody earning over and above a certain threshold should not qualify.

"Having done that, we can also use the Free SHS to expand the tax net. For me, qualification for Free SHS should be on the basis of a proven record of tax payment. So for you to qualify, you must first be a registered tax payer.

"If you did that all the informal sectors, the people who operate in that sector who are not registered tax payers will be compelled to register so they can qualify for Free SHS and then you can capture them into the tax net".

He said there were so many other innovations that could be adopted to successfully target the policy but government had denied itself of these by not initiating dialogue on the Free SHS policy before deciding to implement it.