Leading advocate for social and economic development, SEND Ghana has issued a release of its analysis of the 2024 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government.
In the release, SEND Ghana noted that although the allocation for education has been increased for 2024, more funds are needed.
The Civil Society Organisation proposes that government should remove budget caps on the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) to free funds to address critical infrastructure deficits and improve the quality of education in Ghana.
From the 2024 Budget Statement presented to Parliament in November, the education sector is programmed to spend GHS29.5 billion next year.
This is an increase of GHS6.6 billion in nominal terms. The allocation is 11.40/0 of the total national budget of GHS226.7 billion.
Despite the increment, the allocation for 2024 is below the international benchmark of 12-150/0.
The sector's allocation for capital expenditure also declined by more than 500/0 from Ghs2.762 billion to GHS985 million below allocations between 2020 to 2022.
This situation is also worsened by the capping of the Ghana Education Trust Fund which was established by Act 581 and amended by Act 972 and plays a critical role in supplementing government efforts to improve educational infrastructure from pre-tertiary to tertiary levels.
Analysis of GETFund allocations from 2020 to 2023 shows that 61 0/0, 60.4%, 79.4%, 40.30/0, and 41.3% of the GETFund levy were lodged into the GETFund in 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, and 2024 respectively as a result of the Funds Capping and Realignment Act 2017, Act 947, which empowers the government to allocate portions of the funds to other sectors.
This, SEND Ghana notes that it is hindering the fund's secretariat's ability to fulfill its core mandate because over 5000 basic schools remain under trees, senior high schools are overcrowded despite the double-tracking system, and university students stand in corridors for lectures.
“To address the infrastructural gaps the government must uncap the GETFund to allow for more effective use of the revenue mobilized to meet the critical infrastructure needs in education. This strategic move will not only improve the quality of education but also create a conducive learning environment for students across Ghana,” parts of the release by SEND Ghana on the 2024 Budget analysis said.
In the health sector, SEND Ghana is calling on government to remove budget caps on the National Health Insurance Levy (NHIL) to address unhindered access to healthcare services towards the Universal Health Coverage in Ghana.
The Organisation also wants government to allocate the COVID-19 levy exclusively to a dedicated fund to cater for public health emergencies.
SEND Ghana in its analysis of the 2024 Budget further admonished government to increase tax revenue (% of GDP) through re-introducing road tolls, enforcing revenue assurance and tax compliance, and discouraging unnecessary tax exemptions.
The leading advocate for social and economic development explained that its analysis of the budget shows that the government has been struggling to generate the needed revenue to undertake its numerous developmental projects, as evidenced by the low tax revenue to GDP ratio over the years.
SEND Ghana notes that it is difficult to understand why a low-hanging fruit like reintroduction of the road tolls has not been implemented for a whole year after approval by parliament, although the government is struggling to raise the needed revenue as evidenced in the low tax to GDP ratio per our analysis of the 2024 budget.
“SEND Ghana urges the government to consider these recommendations seriously and work collaboratively with stakeholders to ensure the effective implementation of measures that will enhance transparency, inclusivity, and sustainable development in Ghana,” the release signed by Deputy Country Director Emmanuel Ayifah appealed.