I have read with utmost shock and dismay a statement released by the Communication Bureau of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) regarding the Ghana School Feeding Program (GSFP) in the Upper East Region.
This statement is not only malicious and one emanating from a desperate political party seeking political power, but untruth that is far from reality.
The import of this statement is to correct the deliberate misrepresentation, lies, and empty propaganda thus setting the record straight. It is indisputable that the School Feeding Programme was initiated by the government of H.E John Agyekum Kuffour in 2005.
It was inspired by the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Program (CAADP) Pillar Three, which seeks to enhance food security and reduce hunger, aligning with SDG2 in contemporary times. In 2016, the feeding cost per child was GH¢ 0.80, compared to GH¢ 1.20 and GH¢ 3.20 earmarked for this year as captured in the budget. Correspondingly, the total number of children under the program as of 2016 was around 1.6 million.
The number momentarily is in excess of 3.3 million, indicating a substantial increase in the financial commitment of resources by the government.
It is worthy of note that in the Upper East Region alone, the number of beneficiary schools has increased from 366 in 2017 to almost 900 in 2023.
This staggering growth is a step closer to achieving 100% coverage in the region. Admittedly, the caterers are owed two terms. This is a standard convention of which all caterers are familiar with. It is essential to stress that arrears owed to caterers were cleared last year by the government.
Regretless, Pre-financing the services is part of the contractual arrangement of their engagement. I, therefore, wish to urge our hardworking caterers to exercise restraint, while efforts are underway to clear the arrears. We can thus assure caterers of the Program in this region that the Nana Addo and Dr. Bawumia-led government remains committed to keeping the program alive despite the economic challenges experienced by the country.
The assertion by the NDC that since the reopening of schools, caterers have not honored their contractual obligations is untrue. Contrary to the NDC's misleading narrative, our investigations reveal that the majority of caterers under the GSFP are diligently fulfilling their contractual obligations, providing the necessarymmeals for school children.
The few delays are isolated cases and not widespread and not a result of the government's negligence as the NDC may have us believe. Isn't it ironic that the NDC faced similar, if not more, payment challenges with an enrollment of 1.6 million during their time in government?
At that time, there was no global economic crisis, and the enrollment was not as high as the current 3.3 million. Emphatically, no caterer is owed for three terms. We thus challenge the NDC to substantiate their frivolous claim.
The NDC's inclusion of unrelated issues such as capitation grants and dual desks in the North East region is a desperate attempt to divert attention from their own lack of constructive criticism.
The NPP government has consistently increased budgetary allocations for education, including a significant hike in capitation grants from GH¢4.5p to GH¢ 10.00 upon assuming office.
Claims of an 80% desk deficit in the North East region are nothing but a fabrication aimed at tarnishing the reputation of Vice President Dr. Bawumia, who has been a tireless advocate for his region and Ghana at large. Such baseless allegations only highlight the NDC's lack of substance and willingness to resort to falsehoods for political gain.
The Akufo-Addo/Bawumia government remains committed to the development of Ghana, evidenced by our continuous efforts to enhance education, reduce hunger, and promote sustainable development.
We urge the public to treat the NDC's press statement with the contempt it deserves and to trust in the proven track record of our administration.
Peter Ayinbisa Ayamga
Director of Communication