Member of Parliament for Bawku Central, Mahama Ayariga says he has been left in a state of shock after his motion asking the government to absorb fees of students in public tertiary institutions and to extend support to private universities for the 2021 academic year was voted against by his colleague MPs on Thursday.
He insists arguments leading to the rejection of his proposal could have been given a different lens such as efficiency in the payment of fees other than the source of money the state needed to carry out the move.
Ayariga argued that his motion was not directly to suggest that the government pays the full fees for students but allow for options such as getting the schools to take out certain components of the fees that were not applicable such as entertainment and sporting fees so that the fees are drastically reduced.
“I am very scandalized by their approach. It is not all the time that when you are trying to solve a problem, you throw money at it. You can solve a problem by throwing efficiency and prudent management at it. You cannot use the 2019 economy condition fees in a 2020 pandemic economy so let’s reconsider these fees, and they said no. Let’s say government should absorb it, I agree that we should use the word absorb instead of suspend, we suspended it then they came back and said the motion is incompetent and against the constitution. They also argued that where will the government get the money to pay. This is very unfortunate,” he said on Eyewitness News shortly after the parliamentary proceedings.
While the Minority group were in support of the motion, the Majority side held the view that such a move would be unnecessary because the government has already provided enough support and interventions in the area of education due to the pandemic.
The matter was determined through a voice vote rather than a headcount in the House.
Mr. Ayariga who had earlier urged his colleague MPs to accept the motion because it will greatly relieve families that have been adversely impacted by COVID-19, particularly the incomes of households later expressed disappointment at how the voting went.
“There was no need to call for division because we sit on both sides. You could see that they [Majority] were absolutely more than us. The issue was that even the Speaker realized that the Minority members were not in the house in their numbers because of the new policy that all of us should not come to the chamber at the same time.”
“You could see from the chamber that the NDC members were not many, so the Speaker even considered deferring the vote on the matter to the following days that when everyone is in the chamber, we can vote. But the Majority Leader raised objections to that and the Speaker then decided to allow that and clearly because they were many- through the voice votes they carried the day”, he stated.