Schools Face Closure Threat as Unpaid Food Suppliers Protest, Warns MP.
In a concerning development, schools in Ghana may face closure if the National Food Buffer Stock Company (NAFCO) fails to pay its arrears to food suppliers by the end of the week, according to Builsa South Member of Parliament, Dr Clement Apaak. The suppliers, responsible for providing food under the Free Senior High School Programme, have been picketing at the NAFCO premises, demanding payment for two years’ worth of supplies. With loans taken from banks to support their businesses, the mounting pressure and accrued interest are pushing suppliers to the brink. Urgent action is needed to prevent the disruption of education and ensure the stability of the Free SHS policy.
Dr Apaak, also a ranking member of the parliamentary select committee on Education, called on President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to intervene and address the payment issue promptly. He expressed bewilderment over the delay, considering that critical sectors like education are protected in government programs. The owed amount, not exceeding GHS300 million, raises questions about the government’s handling of approved funds for the Free SHS policy. Should no action be taken, schools may face closure as the suppliers become unable to fulfill their contractual obligations.
The National Food Suppliers Association has highlighted the dire situation faced by its members. Many suppliers have resorted to spending nights at the NAFCO premises rather than their homes due to the mounting pressure. These suppliers took loans to meet the supply needs of the Buffer Stock, and the nonpayment by NAFCO has resulted in significant financial strain. The suppliers expressed concern about the accruing interest on their loans, emphasizing the urgency for payment.
It is essential for the government to prioritize resolving this issue to prevent the disruption of educational services and ensure the continued success of the Free SHS policy. By promptly addressing the arrears owed to food suppliers, the government can demonstrate its commitment to supporting critical sectors and maintaining the stability of Ghana’s education system.