The Peoples’ National Convention (PNC) has called on all political parties, other development stakeholders and citizens to vehemently oppose Government’s intention to use the tax obligations of parents and guardians to deny children their constitutional right to free education.
This is because the right of the Ghanaian child to progressively free education as enshrined in the Fourth Republican Constitution is not tied to their parents’ tax obligations the way the Finance Minister seeks to interpret it however good his intentions may be.
Last week, the Honourable Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta in his 2019 Budget reading in Parliament expressed Government’s intention to use parents’ Tax Identification Numbers as parts of requirements for their children to enjoy Free Senior High School (SHS) education.
This, the National Organizer of the PNC, Mr Desmond Ntow thinks is against the right of the Ghanaian child.
In a rather conflicting position, the Honourable Minister of Education, Matthew Opoku Prempeh whose sector this policy affects has denied reports of NO TIN, NO Free SHS and assured citizens that they will not do anything like that.
“It is obvious Honourable Matthew Opoku Prempeh sees everything wrong with it and he does not think his administration could even dream of doing that,” Mr Ntow observed.
According to him, however refreshing the Education Minister’s message is, it is obvious he was not consulted, or, he did not pay attention to the Finance Minister when he was reading the budget and he had not taken his time to peruse the budget before reacting to media reports.
Mr Ntow said, “in the face of the conflicting messages from these very important Government functionaries, I wish to advice Government to find ways of ensuring citizens obtain their TIN without denying innocent children their constitutional right to education, especially so, when same Government has announced efforts they are making to make basic education not only totally free but compulsory as well.”
“Children cannot and should not be forced to suffer the consequences of the sins of their parents in this regard,” he emphasized and advised, “instead of denying Ghanaian children their constitutional right to progressively free education because their parents may not have TIN, Government should rather find ways of making Basic and Senior High education completely free and compulsory and prosecute parents who will deny their children education by neglecting them or not taking them to school.”
“In that case, parents who do not have TINs for whatever reasons could be helped to obtain them or dealt with in accordance with law while their wards enjoy their right to education,” the National Organizer advised.
According to Mr Ntow, “it is also important for Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to make TIN acquisition very easy and fast to encourage citizens to obtain it wherever they may be in the country.”
“The situation where responsible citizens have to struggle and waste so much time to get a simple TIN is very discouraging and does not help revenue generation,” he observed, adding, “it also creates grounds for extortion and bribery which, worsen our already bad case.”
“It is, however, worth noting that PNC is never against government’s effort to improve revenue generation to fund development projects and programmes,” the National Organizer clarified and argued,
“but, in this effort, we have to be careful we do not sacrifice our innocent children’s future. No talent must be allowed to drain into uselessness otherwise we defeat the purpose of Free SHS.”
The PNC thus calls on all citizens and development stakeholders to object to this rather talent killing intention of Government expressed by the Finance Minister.