The government has released ¢150million to defray outstanding arrears owed caterers under the Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP) for the 2018/2019 academic year.
The amount covers the remaining six days of the first term, outstanding payments for some caterers for 51 and 14 days of the first term and 48 days of the second term.
A statement issued by Siiba Alfa, Public Relations Officer of the GSFP secretariat in Accra last Wednesday, said the payment begun that same day and advised caterers to check with their respective service providers for payment.
It said the government was mobilising resources to pay the rest of the outstanding arrears that includes the remaining 15 days of the second term and the whole of the third term) of 2018/2019 academic.
“This in effect brings a closure to payment of all outstanding arrears for the first term of 2018/2019 academic year. We are therefore calling on all school feeding caterers to exercise restraint as we resolve these issues,” the statement said.
It assured all stakeholders of the government’s commitment to sustain the programme and improve upon its service delivery.
The GSFP was established in the 2005 to provide one hot nutritional meal on every school day for selected deprived children in deprived schools with the object of increasing enrolment and retention.
Started with ten pilot schools drawn from the then ten regions of Ghana, it was in response to the first and second Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on eradicating extreme poverty and hunger and achieving universal primary education
It seeks to create more direct and indirect jobs for Ghanaians, especially in the agriculture value chain as the caterers are expected to feed the children with food stuff locally grown in the community, thereby creating already market for the farmer.
About 2.8 million children in 9,495 deprived schools across the country are benefiting from the programme in addition to the creation of 9,200 jobs in the catering industry as well as 19,400 cooks.
However, challenges facing the programme include the delay in payment of arrears to caterers, lack of kitchen space, modern cooking tools, dining hall, eating bowls for the beneficiary pupils, refrigeration for the storage of food stuff and ingredients, water storage facilities.
BY TIMES REPORTER