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False! The NDC government never cancelled Book and Research allowances

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Education Minister, Matthew Opoku Prempeh, claims opposition NDC cancelled book and research allowance before leaving office.

The NDC did not cancel the book and research allowance. There is evidence of continuous payment of the allowance throughout the NDC’s administration until it lost power in December 2016. 

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Ghana’s Minister for Education, Matthew Opoku Prempeh,  on Tuesday, August 12, while speaking in Parliament, claimed that the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government cancelled the Book & Research Allowance for tertiary institution lecturers. 

He said it took the Akufo-Addo government’s coming into office to restore the allowance and also increase it from GHS500 to GHS 1,500. 

“Mr Speaker, the Book & Research Allowance which was abolished by the NDC government, has been restored by this government. We have not only restored it but we have approved a 200% increase in the allowance, from the GHS500 to GHS 1,500,” the minister said. 

But the Ranking Member for the Education Committee in Parliament and MP for Akatsi North constituency, Peter Nortsu-Kotoe, challenged the claim, insisting that the NDC government never scrapped the allowance. 

“There is record to show that the Ministry of Finance in 2016 paid Book and Research allowance to lecturers and affiliated workers in tertiary institutions in this country,” Peter Nortsu Kotoe said. 

The NDC government was in power from 2008 to 2016.

Verification

Few days to the presentation of the 2014 budget in parliament in November 2013, the Executive Secretary of the National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE), Professor Mahama Duwieju, revealed at a public lecture organized by the Association of African Universities (AAU) that the NCTE was working with the Ministry of Education and the various public universities to establish a research fund. 

In that budget presented by the then Finance Minister, Seth Tekper, the government announced that it had decided to replace the payment system for the Book and Research allowance with a research facility. 

The matter generated controversy with some tertiary teacher unions protesting against the envisaged cancellation of the Book and Research allowance which they believed was going to be replaced with the proposed research fund announced in the budget.  

In the 2015 budget, Seth Tekper indicated that a draft Bill for the research fund was undergoing stakeholders’ consultation and review. 

As at November 2016, the research fund which was envisaged to replace the Book and Research allowance was yet to be laid before parliament

During that period, the NDC government was still paying the Book and Research allowance in its regular form. Publications on Citifmonline.com and Graphic.com.gh confirmed payments for the 2014/2015, 2015/2016 and 2016/2017 academic years.

A recent report found a letter from the Ministry of Finance authorizing payment for the Book and Research allowance in 2016, the year the NDC government lost power.

When we followed up with a phone call to the 2015–2017 National President of the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG), Dr Harry Agbanu, he said the allowance was never cancelled during the NDC administration. 

“It wasn’t cancelled. There was the intention of the NDC government to cancel that and we protested. There were discussions to that effect but it was never cancelled. They paid the last book and research allowance to us before they left [office in 2016].”


Conclusion

Based on the evidence above, we conclude that the NDC at no point during its administration cancelled the Book and Research allowance although it had considered reviewing the system of payment to be replaced with the Tertiary Education Research Fund. 

The reporter produced this fact-check under the auspices of the Dubawa 2020 Fellowship in partnership with Citinewsroom to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and to enhance media literacy in the country.  

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