School feeding caterers to be paid this week — Minister
Caterers under the Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP) will be paid their arrears for the third term of the 2022 academic year this week, the Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Lariba Zuweira Abudu, has said.
According to the minister, the files of 11,052 caterers had been finalised for payment, adding that the government had already settled the outstanding debts for the first and second terms of the 2022 academic year.
Although Hajia Abudu could not indicate the exact amount of the payments to be made this week, she said 76 caterers were unlikely to receive their money due to some pending challenges with their ezwich cards.
Hajia Abudu was addressing journalists at the Minister’s Press Briefing in Accra yesterday to update the public on the payments, the way forward and other matters.
This follows weeks of agitations by the caterers, some of whom threatened to stop preparing meals for beneficiary schoolchildren due to the mounting arrears which they said had compelled them to operate under constrained budgets.
The minister said there were about 34,350 caterers under the programme who cooked for about 3,801,491 beneficiaries in 10,832 public basic schools across the country.
“The feeding cost per meal per day per child was increased from 80 pesewas (80Gp) in 2018 to GH¢1, and in 2023, the cost per meal per child per day has been proposed as GH¢1.20,” she said.
Ms Abudu said that the programme which provided employment to especially women to generate income to take care of their families had also created a ready market for local farmers, thereby helping to boost the economy.
“The GSFP is one of the social protection flagship programmes which is consistent with other major policies and development strategies of the government as part of its shared growth development agenda and national social protection strategy which hinges on Sustainable Development Goals One, Two, Four and Five,” she said.
Ms Abudu said the ministry was running an electronic monitoring system which provided real time data to enhance the delivery of the programme.
“A software has been developed to manage the GSFP data, and the ministry will continue to implement planned activities and monitor compliance to standards so that no one is left behind,” she added.
Touching on Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty Programme (LEAP), the minister said, it had cleared arrears from 2022 and that beneficiaries had reached 1.5 million this year, adding that the “government has doubled the amount for beneficiaries”.
She said persons accused of witchcraft in the five camps of the Northern and North East regions had been included in the LEAP cash grants.
Ms Abudu explained that while it was not difficult for the government to close down the witch camps, it was important to note that the camps served as the first port of call for the safety of such persons.
She said in 2022 there were about 84 inmates at the camps which had since risen to 96 as of last month, including alleged wizards (men).