Ashanti school feeding caterers threaten strike over payment reductions and arrears

School feeding
School feeding

The Ashanti Regional branch of the Progressive School Feeding Caterers Association Ghana has threatened to halt their services due to reduced payments and unpaid arrears related to the school feeding programme.

In a statement, the association criticised the authorities for failing to pay the approved feeding grant of GH₵ 1.50 per pupil, instead receiving only GH₵ 1.20. The caterers had previously demanded an increase from GH₵ 1 to GH₵3 per child due to rising food costs, which led to the government’s agreement to raise the amount to GH₵ 1.50 for the 2023/2024 academic year.

According to the association, Hajia Safia, Coordinator of the School Feeding Programme, announced on national television that the government had approved the GH₵ 1.50 feeding fee per child. However, the recent payments reflected the reduced rate of GH₵ 1.20, leading to the caterers feeling shortchanged.

Led by President Gifty Asamoah, the association demands the government pay the 30 pesewas difference and settle arrears for the second term by July 12, 2024. Additionally, they request the payment of the third-term feeding grant before the next academic year begins.

“We feel betrayed by the government. The agreed amount was GH₵ 1.50, yet we are being paid GH₵ 1.20,” said Gifty Asamoah. “We demand the 30 pesewas difference and immediate settlement of all arrears.”

The caterers also raised concerns about delays in termly payments, underpayment due to non-cooking, and the demand for tax certificates.

“We are tired of the delays and excuses,” added Asamoah. “Our livelihoods depend on these payments, and we cannot continue to operate under these conditions.”

They have warned that they will withdraw their services if their demands are not met by the government and the School Feeding Secretariat.

“If our demands are not addressed by the end of July 12, 2024, we will have no choice but to withdraw our services,” Asamoah stated. “We hope the government listens to us and takes immediate action.”

But the School Feeding Secretariat in a statement issued on Friday (5 June) clarified that the proposed GH₵ 1.50 increment in the feeding grant per each beneficiary pupil will “take effect from the payment of the second term of the 2023/2024 academic year as captured in the 2024 Budget and Financial Statement of the government.”

“All caterers under the programme in all 16 regions should be rest assured that the National Secretariat is assiduously working through the sector Ministry to ensure a timeous release of funds by the Controller and Accountant General’s Department to clear outstanding arrears using the new approved rates in the coming weeks”.

The GH₵ 1.20 paid for the first term covered 58 cooking days which is also based on the number of days caterers were able to feed beneficiary pupils during the term. The government acknowledges the challenges faced by our cateres and the National Secretariat can confirm that each caterer would receive GH₵ 1.50 per pupil per day in the next payment”, the secretariat added.

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