Volta region: 417 School Feeding caterers threaten to quit over Gh¢900,000 debt

Volta region: 417 School Feeding caterers threaten to quit over Gh¢900,000 debt
Source: Ghana|Myjoyonline.com
Date: 05-09-2014 Time: 06:09:17:am

About 130,000 pupils in the Volta Region would miss free lunch as caterers under the Ghana School Feeding Programme threaten to lay down their tools over unpaid allowances. 

The 417 caterers across the region say government owes them close to one million Ghana Cedis. They claimed authorities have ignored them.

Volta regional correspondent Ivy Sertordzi reported that the caterers have been cooking in 406 schools and have been unpaid for over 4 months.

The Ghana School Feeding Programme is a social intervention by government to provide free lunch to selected basic schools across the country. The aim is to improve enrollment rates in areas where poverty is making it difficult for pupils to take their books seriously.

It was initially funded by donor partners who have since withdrawn support. But in recent years, the programme is severely cash strapped in the wake of Ghana's economic difficulties.

"Government is owing us a whooping sum of 980,000 being 153 days indebtedness to caterers. This is causing a lot of agitation among the caterers. As school is re-opening on September 16, some of us are trying to lay down our tools", a caterer told Joy News.

Many caterers are knee-deep in debt.

"I find it very difficult to go out because of debtors", a lady confided.

The Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the GSFP, Mr Siiba Alfa, said the government's indebtedness was a source of concern to the authorities.

"We are working to pay them the arrears. We have been given assurance from the Ministry of Finance that they are mobilising resources for us so that we will be able to pay our caterers before school re-opens."

Nationwide, 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 PRO has said 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 is unable to make any payment to the caterers.