Asiedu Adamu speaking at the press briefing
The Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP) owes caterers who were contracted to cook for pupils an amount of GH?150,000.
Asiedu Adamu, Coordinator of GSFP, who made this known at a press briefing in Accra, said government had released GH?4,000 to settle the first and second term arrears owed the caterers over a seven-month period.
He attributed the delay in the release of the funds to caterers to the current economic downturn, stating that the economic crunch has not only affected GSFP but many social programmes in the country.
?All well-meaning Ghanaians may be aware that the impact of the economic difficulties is being felt by the capitation grant, NHIS, GETFund, as well as payments to contractors, which are all in arrears,? Adamu added.
He expressed concern about media reports that suggested that GSFP was failing.
Such headlines, Adamu said, were not only misleading and inaccurate but paint a picture which is completely at variance with the current status of the programme.
?It is pertinent to mention that yes GSFP owes our caterers seven school months, which is about 142 days. We are however making strenuous efforts to defray these debts so that beneficiary pupils are not undeservedly affected by those developments,? he said.
?We wish to reiterate that government is genuinely committed to sustaining the programme,? Adamu added.
Touching on the state of the programme, he said, the GSFP has expanded over the years to cover all Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) with a total number of 1.7 million pupils.
Adamu said the beneficiary schools have also increased from 10 in 2005 to about 5,000 in 2012/2013 school year, stating that there were about 4,411,150 pupils in nursery, kindergarten and primary.
He said the current enrolment figure of 1.7 million represented about 38.53 percent of total basic education population.
Adamu said as part of measures to streamline the implementation of the programme, a national policy for the programme had been finalized to serve as basis for a school feeding draft bill.
By Cephas Larbi