The Head of the Ghana School Feeding Programme Public Relations, Siiba Alfa has assured that government will soon implement its decision to increase the feeding grant for school feeding caterers.
He said that it was unfortunate that the final determination on the exact amount to be given has been delayed since the announcement for the increment was made.
However, government is working in consultation with the relevant decision-making bodies and partners to arrive at a mutually acceptable figure that would meet the current standards of living, Mr Alfa said.
This comes after some angry school feeding caterers staged a serious protest against government in Kumasi last Monday.
They stormed the office of the Ashanti Regional Minister, Simon Osei Mensah in all-red attires to demand increment and payment of their "three terms' arrears".
The caterers threatened to stop cooking for the beneficiary children until the government heeds their demand for payment of their three terms' arrears and increment in the feeding grant per child from the current 97 pesewas.
Approval of Grant Increment
Mr Siiba stated emphatically that the “government had already approved a proposal submitted to Cabinet through the Gender Ministry for an increase in the school feeding grant.
The increment, he said, was captured in the 2023 budget statement and was announced by the Finance Minister."
Appeal to caterers
The Public Relations Manager, in an interview with the media, appealed passionately to the caterers in the Ashanti and other regions threatening to embark on a sit-down strike to rescind their decision.
"We want to appeal to our dear caterers who are threatening to go on a nationwide strike to exercise restraint, and cooperate with the processes leading to the payment of their 3rd term of 2022 arrears," Mr Siiba said.
Alleged three terms' arrears
Meanwhile, Mr Alfa refuted the claims by a section of the aggrieved caterers that the government is presently owing them for three continuous terms.
He revealed that the School Feeding Management in April 2023 finished paying the caterers for the 2nd term of 2022 with an amount of GH¢200 million even before the protest in Kumasi was staged.
As it stands now, the government owes the caterers only the third term of 2022 and the first term of 2023, Mr Alfa noted.
"We are in the second week of the second term of 2023 and per our policy, caterers are supposed to pre-finance the cooking until the end of the term before they can be paid what is due them for the second term of 2023. So, the caterers are owed only two terms," he insisted.
Third term of 2022 payment
Mr Alfa reiterated that the GSFP, in collaboration with the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, is working on the necessary documentation to ensure that payment for the third term of 2022 is effected as soon as possible.
Frequent Delays in Payment
The PRO admitted that the frequent delays in the payment of arrears were seriously affecting the caterers and keeping the majority of them in debt for a long time.
He also acknowledged that most caterers are unable to sleep in their homes or go to certain markets because they are always being hunted by their suppliers and creditors due to the delay in payment.
He, however, attributed the phenomenon to the current economic challenges. He also commended the government for its demonstrable commitment to salvaging the situation despite the inherent economic difficulties the country is facing.
Deduction of non-cooking days
On the other hand, Mr Alfa reacted to the complaints of deductions in the payments of some Caterers.
According to him, the deduction is called non-cooking days, and that, "it affects only those who were unable to cook for a number of days for whatever reasons in an academic term."
He said that the non-cooking days are deducted by the government to ensure value for money and to also serve as checks and balances in the School Feeding Programme.
Meanwhile, Mr Alfa urged any caterer who feels that she or he has been wrongfully deducted to contact their School Feeding Zonal and Regional Coordinators with copies of their daily record forms for immediate rectification or correction.
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