The Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Alban S.K. Bagbin, is pleading with new and continuing students of the various tertiary institutions in Ghana to bear with the House on debates concerning the suspension of school fees for the 2021/2021 Academic Year.
It would be recalled that on Wednesday January 20, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Bawku Central, Mr Mahama Ayariga, filed a motion requesting the President to take urgent steps to suspend the payment of admission fees of fresh and continuing tertiary education students, as part of the national Covid-19 Alleviation Programme being implemented by the government.
But, the debate on the motion has been suspended on four occasions due to some objections raised by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Caucus in the house.
The MP for Nsawam-Adoagyiri and Chief Whip of the Caucus, Mr Annor Dompreh, said his checks with the various tertiary institutions do not show that there is anything like ‘admission fees,’ but rather academic user fee, hence the motion was flawed and incompetent and doesn’t warrant a debate.
But the Speaker, yesterday, ruled on the motion and indicated that it was not incompetent because it was very important and would benefit a lot of students facing financial challenges in these Covid-19 times.
The debate, however, couldn’t take place as expected, due to the requiem of the late former President, Flt Lt. Jerry John Rawlings, since most members had gone to solidarise with the bereaved family.
The Speaker indicated that the motion was very important and would need majority of the members to be in the House to debate it.
The Speaker, therefore, appealed to the students to exercise patience with the House, as the motion would be taken on Thursday, January 28.
Speaker Bagbin directed the members to prepare to debate the motion on Thursday.
Mr Ayariga’s Motion
According to the Bawku Central MP, payment of fees for the 2021 Academic Year should be suspended and captured under the COVID-19 Relief Programme.
One of the arguments made by the legislature was that economic conditions of the country had changed due to the emergence of the Covid-19, and it has had devastating consequences on the incomes of households and businesses.
He argued that most sectors of the economy had been hard hit. “For instance, the hospitality sector has been devastated, in that a lot of hotels, restaurants, eateries and others, for most parts of the year 2020, couldn’t operate due to the pandemic, and this has really affected their income levels.”
He said though most of them were now operating, the sales they make are very low because occupancy rates in these times have become very low.
He also noted that other sources of income for most families in Ghana have been remittances from abroad. He indicated that “as we all are aware, Covid-19 affected Europe and America, and has affected the ability to remit back home, so the President should absorb the fees to ease the financial burden on parents and students.”