Gov’t urged to solve School Feeding problems

80979Parliament has accused the government of applying a “knee-jerk” approach in solving the financial challenges of the National School Feeding Programme (SFP).

According to the House, the programme is bedeviled with serious financial challenges due to the delays in the release of funds to enable it operate effectively.

The Parliamentary Committee on Local Government and Rural Development made this accusation when it presented its report on the budget estimates for the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) for the year 2015 to the plenary for adoption.

The committee observed that releases of funds to the programme had not been forthcoming while workers of the SFP were not adequately paid, giving room for corruption.

Out of the GH¢199 million approved by Parliament to support the SFP for the 2014 fiscal year, only 38.84 per cent of the amount has, as at September this year, been disbursed to the programme.

Currently, the SFP is indebted to caterers who provided services under the programme, a colossal amount of GH¢101million.

The amount represents arrears accumulated for 76 days, and the 2013/2014 academic year alone, covering 36 days.

The Deputy Minister of LGRD, Edwin Nii Lantey Vanderpuye, told Parliament last month that the amount could not be paid until the district assemblies got their share of the District Assemblies Common Fund

He told the House that the government was indebted to more than 5,000 caterers nationwide, and added that the Local Government Ministry was in the interim mobilising funds from its own resources to pay the caterers until the government released the funds.

The committee recommended to the ministry to come out with a policy to regularise the activities of the programme, and give it the necessary status to enable it draw funds from the Consolidated Fund.

“It is clear to the nation that the programme cannot be abandoned due to its impact on school enrolment and growth of local economies,” it said.

The report said the 50Gp per day paid to every child for feeding was woefully inadequate, and recommended that the amount be adjusted to GH¢1 per child per day, to meet the current inflation trend in the country, instead of 80Gp being proposed by the Ministry of Finance.

The House approved an amount of GH¢290,983,972 for the MLGRD and its Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies, as well as other programmes and projects of the ministry, to enable them undertake their planned activities for the 2015 fiscal year.

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