'I Don’t See Why We Can’t Touch Free SHS' - IEA Research Director On IMF Talks

Dr John Kwabena Kwakye, the Director of Research at the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), has reiterated calls for the government to consider tweaking the flagship Free Senior High School, Free SHS, policy amid an economic downturn.

He believes doing so will be key into the urgent need for government to take “tough measures” aimed at cutting down expenditure as it engages the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for support.

Speaking to selected Journalists at a forum dubbed: “Time with IEA Fellows,” Dr. Kwakye stressed that one of the key requirements to address the country’s economic challenges was to “enlarge our revenue envelope” and take drastic measures to reduce expenditure.

“I don’t see why we can’t touch Free SHS . . . Let parents who can afford pay part of the cost. Policies that do not focus on human capacity development can be phased out,” Dr Kwakye said.

He further advised the government to work at creating an enabling environment for the private sector to thrive and by so doing, support it in areas like job creation.

“There are a lot of rigidities in our expenditure. Public sector compensations are huge. The public sector needs to be downsized to be more productive so that we can remunerate them better,” Dr Kwakye added.

He also touched on the need to reduce the size of government and aside from the Free SHS, consider reviewing some other flagship programmes.

President Akufo-Addo ordered Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta via a July 1 statement to present an economic rescue programme to the IMF.

A team from the Fund led by Carlo Sdralevich has since visited Ghana between July 6 – 13, meeting with relevant stakeholders.

Reports indicate that the government is seeking US$3 billion from the fund to help stabilize the economy. The government has serially blamed the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war for the economic headaches.