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General News of Saturday, 24 February 2018

Source: Myjoyonline.com

Rushed Free SHS implementation constricting government budget - Mahama

Former President John Mahama says government is having challenges to meet some of its obligations as a result of the huge impact the Free Senior High School implementation is having on its finances.

He said activities at some state institutions, including National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) and the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) are virtually at a halt because the government cannot find money to fund their operations.

This development, the former President noted, is the result of the negative impact the policy is having on government revenue following rushed implementation by the Akufo-Addo administration.

Addressing National Democratic Congress (NDC) faithful in Somanya in the Eastern Region to end the Unity Walk campaign there Saturday, Mr Mahama criticised the “ad hoc manner” in which the policy was put into effect.

“For a programme that is so fundamental, you have no policy, you have no guidelines [and] you are just implementing it in an ad hoc manner…when we say this you say we are naysayers…,” he told the crowd.

“The problem this government is facing…is that free senior high school [policy] is absorbing all the fiscal space we have.

“And so almost every money you have, you are having to put into free senior high school so you can’t pay District Assemblies’ Common Fund, you can’t pay NHIS, you can’t pay GETFund [and] you can’t pay other salaries and things because all your money is going to Free SHS programme,” stated.

The walk is part of the strategies by NDC to reorganise its support base as it plans to recapture power after a humiliating defeat in the general elections held on December 7, 2016, at the hands of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP).

Party faithful converged at Kpong junction early on Saturday from where they marched through Nuaso, Agomenya, Odumase, Atua and to the Somanya Akutunya Lorry Park, where party leaders took turns to address them.

The Unity Walk in Somanya was led by Mr Mahama; his vice, Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur; Party chairman, Kofi Porturphy and General Secretary, Johnson Asiedu Nketia as well as some flagbearer hopefuls.