Free SHS: Allow the rich to pay!

One of the best things that should ever happen to Ghana is free SHS. It is national in character, the impact is huge but it is costly. So any government that demonstrates the audacity to implement such a policy must be supported by all, more especially when such a policy is a constitutional obligation.

In the collective wisdom of Ghanaians the NPP demonstrated convincing commitment in the last election campaign and in their manifesto to implement this policy in a more desired manner and has been offered the mandate to do same. This however does not immune the Nana Addo’s government of the inherent deficiencies that come with implementing such a huge policy.

Ghana is not the first country in the world to implement free SHS, however, the development experiences of Ghana and the challenges of Ghana is Ghanaian specific and requires indigenous Ghanaian solutions to them.

We are Ghanaians and we know ourselves better. We know the unacceptable levels of economic and social inequality that exist here. We know the kind of salaries and allowances that government appointees take home. We know the kind of salaries and allowances that the article 71 public sector workers take home. We know the ex-gratia of the Ghanaian parliamentarian in his four year term, and we know the kind of outrageous salaries that ministers and board members take home excluding their entertainment, security, fuel and dressing allowances.

We also know the daily struggle of a roadside coco seller just as we know the predicament of an average street vendor. We know the poverty of the ordinary civil and public servant just as we are not oblivious of the conditions of Ghanaian subsistence farmer.

We know about the financing challenges we have with other social intervention policies such as the National Health Insurance Program, the school feeding program and the capitation grant. We are aware of occasion where wages and salaries of workers are paid on the 4th and 5th of the next month due to difficulty in mobilizing adequate funds. We know about the monthly and quarterly interest payments on our loans which is almost half of our GDP as we still borrow further. We know about our statutory payments to MMDA common fund and GET fund. We have not forgotten about the One million dollars per each of the 216 constituencies annually which amounts to 216 million dollars annually. One village, one dam and one district one factory amongst other promises. We recognize the effort of our president in blocking lots of the existing loop holes but we are also not unaware of allegations of others being created under your watch.

Beyond these exorbitantly paid political appointees and the article 71 public sector workers, there are several other people in the private sector who make so much money. These people hold the wealth of this country; they are comfortable and are capable of paying the fees of their wards which they will happily do anyway, so why not give them the chance to pay? Why at all is the need in paying the fees of a minister who enjoys a salary of over ghc17, 000 each month plus all forms of flimsy allowances and per diems? It is great to be audacious but unbridled audacity may be a recipe for chaos.

Allow the rich to Pay so you can treat the poor better!!

Columnist: Peter Suaka

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