Business News of Monday, 10 February 2014
Some public and private schools are still charging fees in dollars, in contravention of Bank of Ghana (BoG) directives.
Others are charging fees in cedis but continue to index them to the dollar. While the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) Law School and the University of Ghana Business School have indexed their fees to the dollar, the Liberty American School (LAS), the Ghana International School (GIS), the Ecole Francaise Jacques Prevert and the Galaxy International School, all in Accra, continue to charge their fees in dollars.
During a visit to some of the schools last Friday, some officials of the schools who spoke to the Daily Graphic, however, indicated they would take steps to start charging solely in Ghana cedis as instructed by the BoG last Wednesday.
The BoG directive
The BoG, last Wednesday, issued a directive to all institutions carrying out transactions in foreign currency to stop and operate only in the cedi. The directive was one of several immediate measures aimed at arresting the free fall of the cedi against the world’s major currencies.
A statement signed by the Secretary to the bank, Mrs Caroline Otoo said: “It is announced for the information of all authorised dealer banks and the general public that with effect from February 5, 2014, the rules governing the operations of [foreign exchange account] FEA and [foreign currency account] FCA have been revised.
“These rules are intended to streamline the operations of these accounts and bring about clarity and transparency in their operations, as well as ensure compliance with Bank of Ghana Notice No. BG/GOV/SEC/2012/12 dated October 10, 2012 on the pricing, advertising, receipts and payments for goods and services in foreign currency in Ghana.
“The notice states that all transactions in the country are required to be conducted in Ghana cedis, which is the sole legal tender.”
Payments indexed to the dollar
Visits to and checks at the educational institutions charging fees and accepting payments in foreign currency indicated that although they intended to go by the BoG directive, all payments had been indexed to the dollar. This means that although they will accept Ghana cedis, the amount collected will be hinged on the prevailing exchange rate at the time.
As per its payment rules, one of the schools visited, the LAS, which operates the American school curriculum, stated: “All fees are quoted in US dollars; payment of fees may be made in either US dollars or in Ghana cedis at a rate of exchange to be advised and noted by the Finance Office?”
Fees for the 2013/14 academic year include a non-refundable registration of US$1,000 and US$3,500 for new students going to pre-kindergarten and those from kindergarten to Grade 12, respectively. Annual tuition fees from pre-kindergarten to Grade 12 also range from US$3,000 to US$9,500.
For the GIS, whose vision is “To be a highly respected school internationally and locally recognised for providing excellent education in a multi-cultural setting that enables students to become responsible citizens of the world”, “Whenever the cedi equivalent of fees are to be paid, the exchange rate should be obtained from the cashier of the school.”
Admission fees paid for nursery/primary to sixth form are US$4,200 for Ghanaians, US$5,225 for the children and wards of long-term expatriates and US$6,250 for short-term expatriates or diplomats’ children.
Apart from that, tuition and tutorial fees of between US$1,480 and US$2,457 for Ghanaians from the nursery/primary to sixth form levels are paid each term, while expatriates pay from US$2,095 to US$4,130 for each term.
According to the school’s fees schedule for the 2013/14 academic year, under diplomat fee payers: “The fees for this category should be paid in hard currency (US dollars or pounds sterling), either by cash/transfers to our accounts or by cheques drawn on Foreign Currency Accounts with local/foreign banks.”
The schedule also states that advanced payments, including school fees paid before the school’s exchange rate for the term is established, can only be made in foreign currencies.
A check at the Ecole Francaise, commonly referred to as the French School because it uses the French curriculum and French as its medium of instruction, indicated that fees are charged in euros, with admission and tuition fees for a year totalling over €7,000.
It was also found during a visit to the Galaxy International School that fees were still quoted in US dollars, with an option to pay the equivalent in Ghana cedis. Meanwhile, a check at GIMPA indicated that fees were now being charged and paid in cedis, following a government directive last year for all public institutions charging in dollars to stop the practice.
Speaking on the issue on an Accra-based radio station in July 2013, a Deputy Minister for Education in charge of Tertiary Education, Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, said, “We have raised concern about dollarised fees and we have asked that the practice stop. They have indicated that it is just a benchmark and that you can still pay in cedis at their own exchange rate but we have said that no, let’s take off the dollars and use cedis. That is a reform which we expect that in the next few weeks we should see happening.”
Information received, however, suggested that the payment of fees is indexed to the dollar rate prevailing.