Close to 7,000 caterers who cocked under the Ghana School Feeding Programme for the third term of the 2018/19 academic year have been paid, Gender, Children and Social Protection Minister, Mrs. Cynthia Morrison has confirmed.

“So everyone is expected to receive payment today, [Thursday, November 28] as has been confirmed by the Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement systems limited (GHIPSS),” the minister told journalists on Thursday.

She, however, admitted that payment was delayed due to a number of issues, including separating data of caterers with contracts from those without contracts, to ensure that the government’s money does not go to wrong hands.

She, therefore, advised caterers with contracts, especially those who submitted themselves to a recent verification exercise conducted by the Youth Employment Agency, to go to their banks for their money, noting that no alert would be issued to them by GHIPSS.

“All those with contract letters have been paid. The phase two is those without contract letters but had received payment previously.

“Their money is available but because they are not in our records, the Chief of Staff has been given their list to finalise how they are going to be paid,” she assured, reiterating that the Ministry of Finance has already released the money.

Mrs. Cynthia Morrison also noted that the School Feeding data is being sanitised to also address the genuine concern of persons who, for lack of capital, credit food stuff to feed the school children.

“The National Food Buffer Stock Company (NAFCO) has rice, beans, and maize [and] has agreed to supply us with food stuff for the caterers. We need to supply them with a list so without accurate data, it would be difficult for them to get paid since payment would be done from source so we need accurate data for Buffer Stock.”

The Minister further revealed, “We used to have about 8,000 caterers but so far almost 7,000 have been verified so their list would be given to Buffer Stock by Monday to key in their details and start supplying them. When we are done with the others and [they] are authenticated, the names would be given to them.”

Mrs. Cynthia Morrison also pleaded with those yet to be paid to exercise patience, though she said she understands their predicament, she pointed out the need for the right thing to be done.

“We don’t generate revenue so we depend solely on the Ministry of Finance and they pay according to available data. It is difficult to pay persons who are not on our records because, we are not able to tell the number of days you cooked or did not cook so that you can be paid.”

To avert delay in payment, she has instructed the National Secretariat of the Ghana School Feeding Programme to start working on payment for the First Term of 2019/20 academic year, so that they will just key in the figures for payment when the term ends.

The Minister also admonished regional and zonal coordinators to speed up the collation of data from schools so that payment can be effected as soon as possible.