The Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning has released funds to settle the arrears owed caterers for the Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP) for the 2013/2014 academic year.
The Deputy National Coordinator in charge of Monitoring and Evaluation of the GSFP, Mrs Victoria Kuma-Mintah, who made this known in Accra yesterday, could not state the exact amount released by the ministry.
She was addressing some caterers during a workshop organised by the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) to sensitise them to the need to ensure good hygiene, especially with the outbreak of cholera in the metropolis.
Mrs Kuma-Mintah assured the caterers that some funds would be released in two weeks’ time and added that the amount would settle all arrears owed to them.
“I do not want to do guesswork but I know the amount will cover all the arrears we owe them for the first and third terms,” she said.
She, however, advised the caterers to prepare hygienic food for the schoolchildren, adding that the government would not spare any caterer who did not perform their work well.
The arrears comprise a 40-day outstanding payment of the first term and the outstanding payment for the 71 days of the second term. As a result, the caterers threatened to stop preparing meals for the pupils if the GSFP failed to release their money to them within two weeks.
When contacted, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the GSFP, Mr Siiba Alfa, explained that the GH¢100 million arrears had increased to GH¢140 million by the end of the third term in July, 2014.
“About 40 days of the first term remained to be paid. The whole of the second term of about 71 days has also not been paid.
“All in all, we have 111 days of feeding grants to clear. This does not include the current term,” he said.
Addressing the caterers, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the AMA, Dr Alfred Okoe Vanderpuije, said the assembly would bring to order any caterer who did not adhere to the sanitation standards.
“Close to 12,000 cholera cases have been recorded in the Accra Metropolis. The school must be an environment for educating children and not an avenue for contracting diseases,” he said.
He advised the caterers to give the schoolchildren paper towels to clean their hands after they had washed them, instead of the common napkins the children used, especially before they ate.
Dr Vanderpuije said at all stages of food preparation and serving, the caterers should make sure that the food was well covered to avoid contamination.