The Minority in Parliament have accused the government of using oil revenue to fund free senior high school (SHS) education, instead of investing the money in infrastructure projects.
It said funding education with revenue from crude oil, which was a finite resource, would deny future generations the opportunity of enjoying from the revenue accrued from the country’s oil production.
But the Majority refuted that claim and indicated that investment in education or free SHS was the best decision taken by the government, since it was benefiting students, irrespective of their religious, ethnic or regional backgrounds.
The Majority said if students were supported with revenue from oil, they would become an important human resource and contribute their quota to the development of the country.
The debate ensued following the presentation by the Finance Committee of the 2018 annual report on the Petroleum Fund and the 2018 Reconciliation Report on the Petroleum Holding Fund.
After the debate, the House adopted the reports, which were presented by the Chairman of the Finance Committee, Dr Mark Assibey-Yeboah.
The free SHS programme is one of the flagship programmes introduced by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government since 2017 to offer free SHS education to every student in public schools.
Leading the debate for the Minority side, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) MP for Yapei Kusawgu and former Deputy Minister of Power, Mr John Abdulai Jinapor, said using oil revenue to fund free SHS was not sustainable.
“Talking about petroleum resource, which is finite, today we are spending all the money to pay for free SHS. When we do not have the resource, how do we fund it? When the revenue begins to dwindle, how do we sustain it?
“Oil revenue ought to be used for infrastructural projects. We should be sure that we utilise our resources judiciously,” he said.
Touching on the Special Petroleum Tax, Mr Jinapor urged the government to remove that tax to bring relief to Ghanaians.
He again asked the government to account for the use of about GH¢600 million from oil revenue since 2017.
Mr Jinapor’s objection to the use of oil revenue to support free SHS education was re-echoed by the Ranking Member on the Finance Committee and NDC MP for Ajumako/Enyan/Essiam, Mr Cassiel Ato Forson, and the NDC MP for Keta South, Mr Fifi Kwetey.
Leading the rebuttal for the Majority, the NPP MP for Ofoase/Ayirebi and Minister of Information, Mr Kojo Oppong-Nkrumah, said in 2016 the NDC argued that it was difficult for the NPP in government to find money to fund free.