The Majority New Patriotic Party (NPP) in Parliament has countered an accusation by the Minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) that it is uncompassionate to the plight of students in tertiary institutions and their parents.
According to the NPP, voting against the Private Members Motion tabled by Mahama Ayariga, which is the basis for the accusation, is not accurate because the side wanted clarity in the demands contained in the motion.
Speaking at a news conference in Parliament on Friday to rebuff the accusation and clarify the Majority’s voting decision, Deputy Majority leader Alexander Kwamina Afenyo-Markin stated that the impression being created that the government is not willing to help tertiary students is mere political mischief.
President Akufo-Addo’s’ government, he said, has demonstrated commitment and has indeed provided support for the education sector more than any other government in Ghana.
“We have the track record and will be first to take action. Students and parents should know that if any relief is to be provided the government will do it in a manner they would get the real benefit,” he said.
He averred that the Motion was problematic because the substance of what it was seeking to achieve was confusing.
He questioned, “How do you in one breath invite government to take steps to absorb fees of students in public tertiary institutions, and in another breath say the government should consider supporting accredited private tertiary institutions?
“The ambiguity in it was just too much. All that we are saying is that if you really want to have a plan for the tertiary students in this Covid-19 era then we must sit together with the executive.”
The Deputy Majority leader argued the government is still at its formative stage and without ministers and further questioned why the Minority wanted to ride the administration when they know the interventions that have been rolled out in the education sector already.
The request, he said, has a fiscal impact on the economy and would have come at a cost whether the government absorbed or suspended the 2020/21 academic fees in public tertiary institutions.
“But our colleagues create the impression we do not support the urgent need to provide some relief for our students at the tertiary level, which is most misconceived,” he said.
Mr. Afenyo-Markin also rebuffed claims the Majority is not willing to build consensus and argued that prior to filing of the Motion, the Mr Ayariga had embarked on a populist journey by putting it in the public domain to court sympathy.
The Majority, he said, simply wanted specificity and wanted to know which cost build-up of the fees Parliament should present to the President, and stressed the timing was also not right in view of the pressure on the economy due to the COVID-19 pandemic.