Funding Nana’s Free SHS . . . Senior Minister Exposed

Reports of disquiet at the seat of government over Yaw Osafo Marfo’s over exuberant ‘coordination of the economic Ministries’ rear its ugly head last week when Ministers and leading members of the governing New Patriotic Party used the Senior Minister’s claim that government will use the Heritage Fund to fund its free SHS policy as launch-pad to “put him where belongs”

Apparently, Ministers and kingpins of the NPP, particularly those at the seat of government, have been brooding over how Mr Yaw Osafo Marfo has arrogated certain powers to himself to bring all appointees of President Akufo-Addo under his surveillance.

Short of opportunity to “deal” with the Senior Minister, The aL-hAJJ’s intelligence gathered that Ministers and government appointees bearing the brunt of Mr Osafo Marfo’s treatment have been plotting how to clip his wings.

The Senior Minister fell into the trap of his ‘adversaries’ when he revealed that government would review the Petroleum Management Act to allow for the use of the Heritage Fund to finance its flag ship policy of free senior high school (SHS) scheduled to start in September 2017.

Reports indicate that Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia; Finance Minister Ken Ofori Atta and Monitoring and Evaluation Minister, Dr Anthony Akoto Osei, have quietly been complaining about Mr Osafo Marfo’s domineering role on how the economy should be managed.

Speaking on the side-lines of a Graphic Business-Stanbic Bank Breakfast Meeting in Accra, Mr Osarfo Marfo said “We have to make an amendment to say that X percent of the heritage fund, or the petroleum fund will be used to support second cycle education. If we think that industry requires a certain stimulus that will enable jobs to be created and you are creating a job to build Ghana, you can look at it and put in a certain amount. We are [also] looking at agriculture.”

“Whatever is important to support the future development of this country… particularly when you talk about the youth; the youth is the future, heritage is the youth, we would make certain relevant amendments to make sure that the economy benefits from the petroleum act,” Osafo Maafo said.

But the Senior Minister had egg on his face when Finance Minister, Ken Ofori Atta; NPP MP for Obuasi West who has been tipped as one of the deputy Finance Ministers, Kweku Kwarteng; acting General Secretary of the NPP, Mr John Boadu, and other leading members of the ruling party denied vehemently that government had taken decision to use the fund to finance its flag ship policy.

Though Mr Osafo Marfo said government had firmed up on the use of the fund, his colleague Economic Management team member, Mr Ken Ofori Atta said “we are financing the Free SHS education without looking at the Heritage Fund. As far as I know the Senior Minister did not say we will finance the Free SHS with the Heritage Fund. He alluded at looking at other options for us to be able to finance the Free SHS.”

Confirming reports of infighting among members of the Economic Management Team, the Finance Minister did not mince words when he said “we are not considering using the Heritage Fund. I think we have enough resource envelopes to be able to do it without touching the Heritage Fund. We will not touch the Heritage Fund for the Free SHS.”
Mr Kweku Kwarteng, NPP MP for Obuasi West and Member of Parliament’s Finance Committee had earlier denied the Senior Minister’s claim. “If government finds the need to do so it will also avert its mind to the counter position and would make a decision that will benefit the people."

Joining Messrs. Ken Ofori Atta and Kweku Kwarteng in exposing Mr Osafo Marfo as peddling lies, acting General Secretary of the NPP, John Boadu also said “we don’t have to even drag this. By the time I’m done, you will know that this is not even argument. Because all the Heritage Fund contains is GHC 900 million, so even if you say you’re using all of it; you can’t proceed for 2 years. So, nobody is saying that the free SHS that (President) Nana Addo said he will do by September, we’re only going to use the Heritage Fund.”

Also confirming Mr Osafo Marfo lied, Director of Communications of the governing party, Nana Akomea, said the Senior Minister was “thinking aloud” when he said government had decided to use the Heritage Fund to finance the free SHS program.

These denials came after the NDC, CPP, PPP and Civil Society groups like ISODEC, PIAC and others heavily criticized the use of the fund to finance government’s proposed policy.

The NPP, then in opposition, kicked against similar proposal by NDC’s General Secretary, Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketsiah, to use the fund to breathe life into the ailing economy and solve the nation’s debilitating power crisis.

Meanwhile, Mr Osafo Marfo’s revelation, which came as surprise to many, this paper gathered, was quickly rebuffed in a manner that it was done, “to send him signals that he will not be allowed to have his way to dictate how the economy should be managed.” Stay tuned