The Gender and Social Protection Minister, Otiko Afisah Djaba, has brushed off threats by caterers under the School Feeding Programme to hit the streets in protest of unpaid arrears.
She said the caterers have no legitimate right to demonstrate.
“When I came in February, there was a debt of GHS114 million from the previous administration, we have been able to pay it. Currently, we have paid GHS151 million to caterers so what are you demonstrating about?
“Monies that were due you, we are paying, we cannot pay all of them at once but we are paying. Even caterers who were owed in 2009 till date, some of them are still owed, they never went on strike because they understand that school feeding is pre-financed,” she added.
Her comment came after a group calling itself the Concerned Caterers Association last week threatened to embark on a naked demonstration if the government failed to pay all arrears owed them within a week.
Their ultimatum expires today, Tuesday, October 31, 2017.
But the Minister said the planned protest is baseless.
“What are they demonstrating about,” she questioned adding “you don’t have a legitimate right to demonstrate because we are paying what we owe you.”
Meanwhile, some women groups and polling station women organizers of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) are accusing the Minister of selective recruitment of caterers.
In responding to the claims, Madam Djaba said her Ministry has every right to engage caterers, just as is done in other Ministries.
“But it looks like in the area of school feeding, the Regional Chairman of the party in the Northern Region seems to think that he should be engaging the staff.
“It has never happened that it is a Regional Chairman that handles the staff,” she added.
Madam Djaba accused the Northern Regional Chairman of the NPP, Bugri Naabu, of being behind the ongoing lawlessness in the Region where party supporters are locking the offices of the programme in protest of not being employed.
She said the party will continue to engage the chairman and the supporters to bring an amicable solution to the situation.