The Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP) is indebted to 5,000 caterers to the tune of GH¢100 million feeding fee for the 2013/2014 academic year.
The arrears comprise a 40-day outstanding payment of the first term and the outstanding payment for the whole of the 71 days in the second term.
As a result, the caterers have threatened to stop preparing meals for the pupils if the GSFP failed to release money to them within two weeks.
The Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the GSFP, Mr Siiba Alfa, told the Daily Graphic that the GH¢100 million arrears would increase to GH¢140 million by the end of the third term in July, 2014 if the programme was unable to make any payment to the caterers.
“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.
The PRO said the caterers had been putting pressure on the GSFP for the past seven months for the release of their money because they were under pressure from their creditors.
He said some of the creditors had taken some of the caterers to court, while others had threatened to seek legal remedies.
He also said the interest on the loans that some of the caterers had taken had gone up due to default payment.
Mr Alfa said the GSFP was yet to receive funds from the District Assemblies Common Fund to pay the caterers.
He attributed the delay in the release of funds to the GSFP to the current economic challenges facing the country.
He noted that “the programme is in danger if we do not address the funding issue.”
Mr Alfa said the government continued to assure the management of the GSFP of its commitment to sustain the implementation of the school feeding programme.
For instance, he said the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning had communicated to the GSFP that it was mobilising resources to settle the indebtednesss of the caterers.
The public relations officers, therefore, urged caterers not to stop preparing the meals for the pupils.
He assured the caterers that the GSFP would defray the debts as soon it received money from the government.
Credit: Daily Graphic