GHc2.7bn Spent on Free SHS food supplies — Buffer Stock
The government has spent in excess of GH¢2.7 billion to pay food suppliers under the Free Senior High School (SHS) policy between 2017 and 2022.
The amount covers the supply of 18 food items to over 700 SHSs, technical, vocational and community development schools.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Food Buffer Stock Company Limited (NAFCO), Hanan Abdul-Wahab, who made this known in Accra yesterday, said an amount of GH¢81.1 million was paid to food suppliers in 2017; GH¢296.2 million in 2018, and GH¢441.5 million in 2019.
For 2020 and 2021, he said the company paid GH¢467.9 million and GH¢692.2 million respectively, while GH¢726.6 million was paid in 2022.
Mr Abdul-Wahab added that although the government owed the food suppliers for 2022, GHc100 million was paid on July 17, this year, while another Gh¢80 million had been released to be paid into accounts of suppliers.
"What is left to be paid the suppliers is less than GH¢30 million.
In terms of percentage, I can say that 85 per cent of what we owe as arrears for 2022 has been settled.
What is remaining is 15 per cent which would be settled before the end of the month," he added.
The CEO was speaking at the meet-the-press series by the Ministry of Information yesterday.
The presentation largely focused on how far NAFCO had fulfilled its mandate of ensuring food security, promoting guaranteed prices for farmers, stabilising prices of food items on the local market and promoting local consumption of grains.
Mr Abdul-Wahab further said that between 2017 and 2022, NAFCO supplied over 6.8 million bags of selected food items to cater for more than 1.2 million SHS students.
The supplies included 1,502,730 (100-kg) bags of maize, 510,000 bags of beans, 298,380 bags of pea nuts, 223,950 bags of millet and 131,850 bags of soya beans.
For rice, he said 4,158,360 50kg bags were distributed to the over 700 schools.
“We have started supplying some of these food items locally, and our target is to ensure that within the shortest possible time, we should be able to supply all the food items under the free SHS,” he said.
On the success story of NAFCO, the chief executive said as of 2016, the company was only operational in three regions – Ashanti, Northern and Bono Ahafo, with 16 staff.
He said only maize and local rice were supplied to a few schools, while some warehouses were defunct.
Abdul-Wahab said as part of the one district, one warehouse (1D1W) policy of the government, 80 warehouses were started, out of which 60 had been completed and were operational across the country.
He said NAFCO had also rehabilitated five existing warehouses which include a 5,000-tonne Duase warehouse located in Kumasi in the Ashanti Region; a 1,000-tonne in Sunyani and 1,300-tonne Wenchi warehouses, both in the Bono Region, as well as a 2,500-tonne in Tamale and 2,500-tonne in Yendi, both in the Northern Region.
“We are looking at long-term storage facilities, so we are also moving towards silos.
Currently, we are visiting all the abandoned silos under the defunct Food Distribution Corporation to see how we can rehabilitate and put them to use,” the CEO added.
Mr Abdul-Wahab further said that the company had developed a five-year strategic plan that would be launched this year.
Following the implementation of the Free SHS policy in September 2017, the Ministry of Education entered into a contract with the NAFCO to spearhead the stocking of food for distribution to SHSs.
Per the contractual arrangement, payments are to be made within 60 days after delivery of supplies.