The Executive Chairman of the School Feeding Programme Dr. Kwame Amoako Tuffuor has accused the CJA of mischief.
He said the Committee for Joint Action mischievously relied on a draft audit report on the programme and sought to deceive the public.
He said that the draft audit report carried out by the Pricewaterhousecoopers in November 2007 was full of discrepancies most of which had been corrected in the final audit report of March 2008.
"A draft report meant to be subjected to further investigations should be confidential as such no one works with a draft.
It is therefore highly mischievous for Kwasi Pratt (of the CJA) and co. not use the real copy of the audit report," Dr Tuffuor said in reaction to allegations of mismanagement of the Programme by the CJA.
"Contrary to the position of the CJA, the 2006 audit report was not a forensic/fraud audit and no section of the report recommended sanctions against any official of the programme," he explained at a media briefing in Accra.
The Executive Chairman said Pricewaterhousecoopers came in to do the auditing to express an opinion and identify various institutional gaps in the pilot phase of the programme's implementation from January to December 2006 and to recommend the appropriate mechanisms and guidelines to streamline the national rollout of the programme from 2007 to 2010.
He admitted that the programme had some teething problems and that there was still a search for qualified people to help man it.
He added however, that it was being managed currently by competent people.
On further queries by CJA about funds not received by some districts, Dr Tuffuor indicated that the SFP, as a government unit, was not directly responsible in the transfer of funds to assemblies and that it was the Controller and Accountant General's office that was responsible for that.
As such, upon complaints from assemblies on funds not received, SFP followed up at the Controller and Accountant General's Department to help address the anomalies.
He said a letter the SFP wrote dated April 30, 2007 copied to the Sector Minster, National Security and BNI Director showed the management was committed to reporting possible fraud to the Auditor General even before Pricewaterhousecoopers came in.
Upon discussions with the auditors during the audit exercise, it was made known that the said funds were indeed properly transferred and received later in 2007 by the assemblies.
"It was therefore surprising that auditors still went ahead and included this in the report as funds not received.”
On the award of contract to non-existing companies, Dr Tuffuor explained that the companies involved were legally registered and that it was indicated as such in the audit report and the GSFP accounts had documents to show but they were never asked for by the auditors.
"We are therefore surprised that what the auditor did not ask for has been captured in the report."
He said most of the companies involved were virgin companies because the secretariat believed in growing virgin companies as a policy of the government.
On the issuance of similar VAT invoice number to two different companies, Dr Tuffuor said, that problem occurred only once among the many VAT receipts and upon cross-checking with the Programme's accountant, it was realised that the action was taken without any malice.
He said the accountant also showed and explained to the auditors that every payment had VAT receipts and the matter of forged signatures of the executive chairman was also under investigation.
On inappropriate award of contracts, Dr Tuffuor explained that in all dealings with suppliers in 2006, the National Procurement Authority (NPA) was notified but in some cases not conclusively because the programme was time bound.
He said over 300 schools in 2006 were awaiting supplies of kitchen inputs without delay so the secretariat opted for other methods as sole sourcing which the Procurement Act allowed.
Thus, the entire list was sent to the NPA and District Chief Executives in all 138 districts were informed to help get suppliers.
He said he had already written to the Minister of National Security on funny deals and possible collusion between some of the programme's officers and DCEs who were responsible for inserting names of schools on the lists and that, the SFP was not cited as having directly manipulated enrolment figures in some districts in the audit report.
"What was raised in the audit report rather gave credence to SFP's position of checking and counter-checking enrolment data as presented by district assemblies and school authorities.”
On unwholesome food provided to children, Dr Tuffuor said no child had been fed with unwholesome food and that when the issue of expired tomato paste was brought to his attention, he asked and ensured that the product was withdrawn from the field and that payments were not made for the spoilt product, after which the contract with the local company, Afrique Link, was abrogated.
"Those children being fed are precious to me and anybody who plays with their future would not be tolerated.
They remind me so much of my childhood days when I used to go hungry.
We will not feed them with spoilt food," Dr Tuffuor stressed.