The government has released GH¢100 million to settle part of the debt owed by the Ghana Buffer Stock Company Limited (GBSCL) to members of the National Food Suppliers Association, suppliers of food items to senior high schools benefitting from the Free SHS policy.
The amount, which represents 50 per cent of the total money owed the suppliers, had gone through almost all the processes — the Ministry of Finance and the Controller and Accountant Generals Department, and will eventually be lodged in the accounts of the suppliers by Thursday, July 20, 2023.
In an interview with the Daily Graphic in Accra yesterday, the Chief Executive Officer of the GBSCL, Hanan Abdul-Wahab, gave an assurance that the remaining 50 per cent of the money owed the suppliers would be paid latest by August 17, 2023.
“We are very grateful to the government, especially the Minister of Food and Agriculture for his tireless effort in following up on the process to ensure that the first tranche of the money was released,” he said.
Members of the food suppliers association picketed the offices of the GBSCL a couple of weeks ago, calling on the company to settle its part of the bargain.
As a way of re-enforcing their demands, some of them cooked, bathed and slept on the premises for some days.
Their spokesperson, Kweku Amedume, entreated the government to pay all their money because their creditors were chasing them.
The Minister of Food and Agriculture, Bryan Acheampong, and the CEO of GBSCL later had to intervene and promised to work around the clock to get money to settle the debt.
Last week, the Minority in Parliament, led by their Leader, Cassiel Ato Forson, went to the office of the GBSCL to ascertain reasons why the money had not been released to the suppliers yet.
The action by the Minority, however, culminated in a near confrontation between them and Mr Acheampong.
The minister was of the opinion that the Minority were cashing in on the matter to gain political points and, therefore, urged his colleagues in Parliament to go back as efforts were being made to pay the suppliers.
The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Kingsford Sumana Bagbin, subsequently directed the Business Committee of the House to ensure that the ministers of Finance, Education and Food and Agriculture appeared before the House to apprise it of the supposed challenges that were making it difficult to pay the suppliers.
The committee has fixed July 18, 2023, for the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta; the Education Minister, Dr Osei Yaw Adutwum and Mr Acheampong to address Parliament on the matter.