Ghana’s Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Alban Bagbin says the demand by school feeding caterers to increase school feeding grants is justified.
The caterers want an upward review of grants to prepare meals for school children from the current ¢0.97 to ¢3 per school child.
The caterers in May embarked on a strike to drum home their demand for an upward adjustment in feeding grants.
According to the Speaker, who paid a surprise visit to the school feeding secretariat on Thursday, the ¢0.97 feeding grant to feed a school child is woefully inadequate.
Alban Bagbin explained that the caterers’ demand is necessary regarding the current global economic challenges.
“We see that there is a challenge and the challenge is financing. The caterers, as you say, do the pre-financing because of the global economic situation, which has affected Ghana.
“There is the need for an upward adjustment of the amount you give to them. Definitely, ¢0.97 is on the low side, and their demand is justified,” he stated.
The Speaker is, however, not sure if the government would be able to meet the ¢3 daily demand by caterers.
For this reason, Mr Alban Bagbin called on stakeholders, including NGOs, to aid the government with the national school feeding programme.
“I think it is a very critical initiative. It is a national policy supported nationally by all of us and passed through the various governments.
“We should all put our hands on deck and I will want to assure you that Parliament will do our bit…we will look at how we will support the school feeding secretariat to generate more revenue,” he said.
The National Coordinator of the Ghana School Feeding Programme, Gertrude Quashigah, assured that the concerns of the caterers are being dealt with.
“The MMDCEs in the Regions called on behalf of the caterers. We rely on the government for payment, and so we have assured them, we will always continue to plead with them and to encourage them and then to calm them down and to console them,” she noted.
She disclosed that her outfit had also received some ¢50 million from Controller and Accountant General to be used for payment for the caterers.
“Last Thursday, we received ¢50 million from Controller, and we were able to use the Thursday and Friday to transfer the money to GHIPPS for payment, so GHIPPS also did their due diligence and then prepared the file for payment. That payment went on Monday.
As part of the surprise visit, Alban Bagbin also visited the National Buffer Stock Company.
He assured the company Parliament will ensure funds are 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. So let us see how we could support this institution, and so I will brief the House,” Bagbin assured.