The Speaker says Parliament is currently running on arrears because the Finance Ministry does not release funds for operations.

Speaker of Parliament Alban Bagbin has paid a familiarisation visit to the Ghana Buffer Stock Company.

The purpose of the visit was to engage with the company’s management to become familiar with the successes the company has chalked so far.

It is also to be abreast with some challenges it faces for Parliament to know how it could help the company.

The CEO of Ghana Buffer Stock Company, Abdul Wahab Hanan, said one of the company’s major challenges is the ability to stock huge quantities of food during bumper harvest to ensure price stabilisation.

“Our major challenge is a stocking for government emergency use as in food security reserve. That has always been our challenge, so along the line, there was another programme by government, one district, one warehouse, which is also laudable.

“The reality is that we must make sure that food is available before we think about stocking. Stocking in our various warehouses will also go a long way to cut down on our budget on food,” he said.

Abdul Wahab Hanan further called on the Speaker of Parliament to assist the Ghana Buffer Stock Company in terms of stocking food for the long and short term.

Food inflation has been on the rise recently, driving overall inflation to above 27%, one of the highest in the subregion.

Speaking during the visit by Alban Bagbin, Abdul Wahab Hanan blamed the rising prices of foodstuffs on the activities of go-betweens, whom he claims are creating artificial shortages.

“As a company that has been doing well on its own with little support from various stakeholders, we have also been able to get firsthand information on what is happening on the ground.

“The reality has to do with the fact that we are unable to stock at the peak of the harvest and also food is available.

But some middlemen in the food business are taking advantage of that, and they are creating artificial shortages to shoot up food prices,” he noted.

Meanwhile, Alban Bagbin assured the company Parliament will ensure funds are made available to the organisation to expand its capacity to stock large quantities of food for a rainy day.

“You can see that one of the biggest challenges is funding. It is just not sufficient to give seed money; I think that government will, from time to time, have to come in to provide them with some financial support.

“This will keep the prices to the level we usually refer to as affordable and not allow this price escalation. Let us see how we could support this institution, and so I will brief the House,” Bagbin said.

Alban Bagbin also called on the private sector to step in, given the potential high returns for such a venture.

“The private sector should be able to lend a helping hand to the institution. It is not a matter of looking at the commercial banks but private sector investors looking for places to invest. This is one of the areas you could invest in to get good returns…I will want to call on all of them to do so,” he stated.