According to Ellen Ama Daaku, a member of the government communications team, schools won’t be closed due to the problems with the food suppliers who have been picketing at the National Food Buffer Stock Company over the non-payment of their arrears.
She stated on the Big Issue on TV3 on Thursday, July 6, “I do not think the schools are going to close,” recalling an earlier allegation that the Ministry of Finance had not released funds to the Buffer Stock Company. Still, the Ministry afterward released a statement stating that the funds had been removed.
“If the funds were provided, how did you distribute them? Buffer Stock needs to clarify,” she continued.
She emphasized, “Speak to the suppliers and pay them.”
Dr. Clement Apaak, a Parliament for Builsa South member, had expressed worry that schools would close if arrears owed to the food suppliers for the Free Senior High School Program were not paid by the end of this week.
He said that if the debts are not paid, the suppliers won’t be able to continue providing food to the schools.
Dr. Apaak, also the ranking member of the parliamentary education select committee, pleaded with President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to see that the suppliers’ unpaid arrears are paid so they may continue operating.
“I genuinely don’t understand what the issue is. Suppose critical sectors like education, health, and social intervention programs are protected even under the IMF program. Why has the government been unable to release funds to pay the suppliers of buffer stock food?
“From what I understand, the debt owing to them doesn’t even exceed GHS300 million. What has the government been doing with the funds Parliament has consistently approved to finance the Free SHS policy year in and year out?
“The President needs to stand up and take action so that schools won’t be shuttered by the end of the week if nothing is done. Schools may close if nothing is done by the end of this week because the food providers cannot continue providing supplies, Dr. Apaak warned on Ghana Tonight on TV3 on Tuesday, July 4.
The picketing food providers said they owed money going back two years.
Koku Amedume, a spokesman for the National Food Suppliers Association, claimed that they are under pressure because they obtained bank loans to help them satisfy the Buffer Stock’s supply needs.
Amedume stated, “The suppliers who spent the night at the NAFCO premises as part of the demonstration are more comfortable sleeping at the NAFCO premises than sleeping in their homes because of the pressure on them,” during a segment of the Ghana Tonight Show with Alfred Ocansey on TV3 on Tuesday, July 4.
He added that they are concerned about the interest that will accumulate on the loans they acquired due to NAFCO’s nonpayment.
“Our family is under tremendous hardship. Most of these people seek out bank loans with exorbitant interest rates to sustain their businesses and participate in this supply business.
“Buffer Stock had taken supplies from them for two years, and we have not been paid for two years,” he claimed.