School Feeding in huge debt as 130 contract staff not paid months

National Coordinator of the Programme Dr Gertrude Quashigah with some caterers

Painstaking investigations conducted by Onua TV News indicate that the Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP) has been wallowing in serious financial challenges for the past two years.

The investigations uncovered that over 130 contract staff of the Programme have not been paid for the past eight months, and salaries of permanent staff are also in arrears for months.

The situation is so dire that staff including cleaners did not receive even a Pesewa as Christmas bonus in December 2021, demoralizing them and frustrating them further.

A confidential document intercepted during the investigations also revealed that management of the social intervention programme did not receive even a cedi for their operational activities for all four quarters in the year 2021.

Government in the 2021 budget approved over GH¢440 million for GSFP to be used for operational activities as well as compensation and goods and services.

Though the money was transferred to the Gender Ministry’s account, it idled there whilst the Programme suffered unduly.

Due to this, the Secretariat could not embark on essential monitoring activities since funds to embark on such activities were withheld by the Gender Ministry, even under Caretaker Minister, Madam Cecilia Abena Dapaah, whom many had hoped would inject some seriousness into the pro-poor programme.

The confidential document, which was an SOS (save our soul) message sent to the Chief of Staff, Madam Akosua Frema Osei Opare, last year, asked her to use her office to intervene in the situation to save the Programme from collapsing under the Akufo-Addo-led government.

“Funds for 1st, 2nd and 3rd quarters of 2021 have not been released to the secretariat and have brought our operational activities to a standstill,” part of the document read.

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“This situation is quite worrying as it has brought undue hardships to these affected staff and their families.” This is how the document captured the pain of the unpaid staff to the Chief of Staff.

A senior staff member of the Ghana School Feeding Programme, speaking on anonymity confirmed the content of the confidential document to Onua TV.

“Currently, operational activities of the Programme have seriously been affected by the failure of the Ministry to release funds. We are unable to go on monitoring to check the activities of caterers, giving some caterers a field day to do whatever they want which does not insure to the benefit of the programme,” the staff member said.

Apart from this, over 10,000 caterers are yet to be paid for services rendered to Ghana School Feeding Programme for the third term of the 2020/21 academic year, a situation most caterers are finding difficult to cope with.

The Programme is currently indebted to its service providers, who are unwilling to service even air-conditioners, printers, vehicles, furniture etc.

Meanwhile, the Public Relations Officer of the Secretariat, Siiba Alfa, has admitted that the Programme is facing some financial challenges, hence the decision to halt enrollment of more schools onto the Programme.

By Kweku Antwi-Otoo|3news.com|Ghana