The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, has directed five committees of Parliament to investigate the activities of the National Food Buffer Stock Company (NFBSC) and the Ghana School Feeding Programme Secretariat (GSFPS).
He said the committees on Education, Gender, Children and Social Protection, Health, Food and Agriculture, as well as Finance, must report to Parliament the findings and recommendations on the feasibility and sustainability of the programmes of the two institutions before the end of October this year.
He said the school feeding programme provided great potential to accelerate the nation’s progress towards the attainment of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on hunger, poverty and malnutrition.
Delivering an official communication on the floor of Parliament on the NFBSC and the GSFPS, Mr Bagbin said it was critical that the House addressed issues affecting the efficient implementation of the programme as matters of national priority.
That, he said, would help to institute realistic and sustainable measures to avert a possible recurrence of challenges in the future.
The Speaker said as matter of concern and of public interest, his attention had been drawn to the recent protest and strike action by caterers of the School Feeding Programme.
The development, he said, required urgent attention in order to ensure that food, an essential requirement for life itself, was made readily available to the vulnerable children of school age.
Mr Bagbin said school feeding programme caterers, who ceased operations in May this year, had requested that their grants be increased from 0.97 pesewas to GHc3 per child per meal.
He said a number of them had also threatened to terminate their contracts entirely due to months of non-payment of arrears by the government.
He told the House that he was personally aware of the extent to which the non-payment of those arrears was affecting school enrolment and attendance, particularly in rural communities.
“We have all accepted the truism that children and the youth are the wealth of a nation. The situation we are in now affects the vulnerable schoolchildren and future leaders of this country,” he said.
Expressing worry over how political leaders were prioritising political development over economic growth, Mr Bagbin said:
“We are neglecting a significant resource of development — the people”
“As MPs, we cannot fold our arms or follow partisan lines and positions while Rome burns. As you are all aware, Parliament is the primary democratic institution which represents the people of this country and Parliament is the only constitutionally legitimate authority to call government to order and to put things right. We must resolve, here and now, to act quickly and decisively on this matter,” he said.