The Minister for Manpower, Youth and Employment Alhaji Boniface Saddique has dismissed allegations that allocations for the youth employment programme have been diverted to GET Fund projects.
The minister was speaking at a joint press conference by his ministry and that of the ministry of finance in Accra to react to the allegations by the minority side in Parliament.
Minority Leader Alban Bagbin had questioned the allocation of 1.1 trillion cedis to the youth employment programme in the supplementary budget presented to the House.
Mr Bagbin alleged that this figure was not approved by Parliament and questioned how the disbursements could permeate into educational projects.
“Government after we approved the budget held meetings and decided that the mention of a programme called Youth Employment should be implemented.
If you are all listening to various communities and the youth, it has already being implemented and monies are released from the district assemblies common funds, the GET Fund, the NHIS, road fund, HIPC fund and these are being given to party youths.
We have received a lot of complains and we are investigating that issue.”
But the Youth and Employment Minister said both sides of the House approved the allocations together with the disbursements in the 2006 budget.
“Our friends in the minority in parliament are questioning the basis for allocating the funds to implement the employment programme for the youth in this country.
National youth employment programme is being funded by funds already approved by parliament in active participation of our colleague MPs in the minority in November 2005.
There are seven identified sources of funds in the budget statements for the national youth employment programme. The district assembly common fund, GET Fund, NHIS, road fund, HIPC funds, service and investments.
I want to prove to you that these things we did in consensus together with the minority in parliament.
There is an additional 15 percent to be set aside to manage sanitation in the country. 15 percent of it out of one billion two hundred and four is in the document approved by both majority and minority.
Strategy programme also incorporate transfers to the district assemblies common fund and the GET Fund for which amounts to 1,204 billion. It was approved by both the minority and majority in parliament.”
Finance and Economic Planning Minister, Kwadwo Baa-Wiredu explained further that the disbursements by nature overlap into other related projects.
“A certain percentage of VAT is also being used to support the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) that means no matter where you are in Ghana, you are contributing towards the NHIS.
Obviously, we need people with some basic qualification to take people through whenever they need health care.
Soon on a horizontal basis, if you are including people who are likely to go to the hospitals, clinics and health centers and if you are not depending on cash and carry then you need people to also care for them.
So when you are training the health assistants, you must be able to pay them something. Even if it is an allowance, there should be a source of money to pay them and this is why 10 percent of the NHIS is obviously being earmarked to support that programme so that those who will go through as health assistants and other supporting staffs can be paid.
Secondly, by introducing the capitation grant, the three rights, the school feeding programme, we have deliberately increased the number of pupils in our schools.
In almost every district the document are here to support that, there have being an increase of around 17 percent in enrollment.
We need teachers, we have a lot of students who have completed senior secondary schools and when GES screens them, they can take some as teachers and obviously we need to pay their allowance.
So, if we are using part of the GET Fund which by law you can support human resource development in terms of teaching we are not doing anything out of the way.”
Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu is the Minister for Finance and Economic Planning.