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General News of Tuesday, 12 September 2017


Kofi Bentil predicts VAT hike to fund Free SHS

Vice President of IMANI Ghana, Kofi Bentil is predicting a possible increment in Value Added Tax to rake in funds to support the government’s Free Senior High School programme.

For Ghanaians to support such a hike, the government must ensure the programme which was officially launched Tuesday, September 12, 2017, succeeds till the year 2020, Mr. Bentil has advised.

The government currently charges 3% flat rate on VAT but this could go up if the government decides to increase it to support free SHS.

The source of funding for the free SHS programme, which is projected to cost the government GH?400 million annually, has become an object of controversy with critics saying there is no reliable source of funding for the policy.

A Deputy Education Minister, Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum told Joy FM Monday, the details of the funding for the policy rolled out this academic year, will be contained in the 2018 budget statement to be presented to Parliament in a couple of months.

Over 400,000 students who graduated from the junior high school and qualified to enter senior high school for the first time, are benefiting from the policy which was a major campaign mantra for the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in the lead-up to the 2008 and 2016 elections.

Some 36,000 students who missed the opportunity will be handed another shot at the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) next year and if they qualify, they will enrol onto the programme.

Speaking on the Super Morning Show Wednesday, Kofi Bentil said increasing VAT may be the surest bet for the government is sourcing for funding for the programme.

“Because of the cost implication I expect that by 2020 the government would have to find new sources of revenue to fund this and I won’t be surprised if VAT is increased,” he envisaged.

According to the policy analyst, the onus lies on government to ensure the programme run smoothly from now till 2020. “The challenge of leadership and the kind of commitment and resolve that I have seen in the leadership of the NPP makes me believe that they will find a way to do it.

“If the NPP makes free SHS successful, Ghanaians will not resist paying increased VAT so they work hard to make sure that this thing works.

“But as somebody in the analyst community I am making the point clear that you would have to find very significant sources of funding and I don’t see that happening in any sector in our economy so I expect VAT to go up but if they make it work, then [free SHS] is going to work,” he added.