Minister asks for nutritional food for pupils

Nii Lante Vanderpuije, Deputy Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, has appealed to caterers working on Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP) to prepare good meals for the pupils.

He said they should make it a motherly and patriotic duty to prepare the best meals for the school kids.

He said the Ministry has set up a Monitoring and Evaluation Desk to look into issue of quality for the appropriate response, and any attempt to compromise on the quality would attract sanctions.

Additionally, the Ministry has set up an integrated mechanism, under which the District Assemblies are working with the schools to purchase quality food products from farmers and producers for which payments are made through the Assemblies.

Nii Vanderpuije made the appeal while answering questions related to the GSFP, on the floor of Parliament on Wednesday.

Mr Kwesi Ameyaw –Cheremeh New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Sunyani East, in an urgent question, sought to know from the Minister when the indebtedness of the GSFP caterers nationwide would be settled.

In a supplementary question, Mr Frank Annor-Dompreh (NPP ) MP for Nsawam- Adoagyiri wanted to know what correlation existed to ensure that the quality of food is not compromised under the prorgamme, in the face of the financial challenges being faced by the GSFP.

Nii Vanderpuije, who is also National Democratic Congress MP for Odododiodoo, admitted that Government currently owe the caterers GH₵ 101 million accumulated for 76 school days, 36 days for the 2013/14 academic year and 40 days for the current 2014/15 year.

He said the debt was as result of lack funds and the Ministry is negotiating with Development Partners for money to offset the arrears until new releases are made by the Government.

The Government, Nii Vanderpuije said, had disbursed GH₵ 147 million for 151 school days in the previous academic year.

The Deputy Minister cautioned caterers against mal-nourishing school kids on the excuse of lack of funds, explaining that one of the reasons for the programme is ensure quality nutrition in order to keep the children in school.

The GSFP has since its inception grown from 500,000 school children to 1.7 million children currently.

In 2005, the Ghanaian government began the GSFP as an initiative of the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme activities to reduce hunger and increase food security to reach the Millennium Development Goals.

The GSFP intended to link school feeding activities with local farm production, thus bolstering both local domestic food production and school enrollment, while also reducing hunger and malnutrition.

The Deputy Minister also briefed the House on efforts by the Ministry to make the Centre for Urban Transportation (CUT), operational.

He said the Centre was established 2010 by an Act of Parliament, Act 779, to serve as a centre for expertise in urban transportation, Ghana.

Since its establishment, the CUT had been under the direction and management of a Statutory Board whose term expired in January 2013 and acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) whose tenure expired at the end of February 2013.

According to Nii Vanderpuije, as at December 2012 all the professional staff engaged to support the institutions had either resigned their posts or their contracts, and only the Acting CEO is at post to manage the place.

The CUT was also rejected from its rented office for non-payment of rent, and its operations thus came to a halt.

“As part of efforts to make the CUT operational, the Ministry in January, 2013, requested Management Services Department of Office of the Head of the Civil Service and the Auditor General’s Department to… conduct management and financial audit of the CUT.

“The objective of the management audit was to review the management structure and recommend staff positions that are in tandem with the mandate of the CUT, “the Deputy Minister said.

He informed the House that the Ministry is making efforts to implement the report of the management audit.

“We are also kindly requesting the Office of the President to reconstitute the Board of the CUT. Consultations are also going on with the Public Services Commission to hire a substantive CEO,” Nii Vanderpuije said. GNA

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