The Member of Parliament for Builsa South and ranking member on the Education Committee of Parliament, Clement Apaak, has suggested to the Akufo-Addo government to abandon the celebration of the 2023 Green Ghana project and use the funds to settle school feeding caterers.
The Chairman of the 2023 Green Ghana Project, Benito Owusu-Bio said the Ministry of Finance has approved GH¢2.5 million for the Green Ghana.
The government is targeting to plant some 10 million trees this year. The number represents a reduction in last year’s target of 20 million.
Caterers who cook for basic school kids in the country have been on a nationwide strike following the government’s failure to pay them their arrears and increase the amount per child.
They are calling for an increment of the amount per child from 97 pesewas to GH¢3.50.
Speaking on the Big Issue on Citi TV/Citi FM with Selorm Adonoo, Dr. Apaak argued that it’s pointless for the government to invest hugely in planting trees when caterers have not been paid their monies.
He said the Green Ghana project should not be a priority of the country when the future generations are not being fed due to government’s inability to pay caterers debts owed.
Dr. Apaak entreated the government to find money to sustain the project and not allow it to collapse.
“This government has been able to find money for the Green Ghana project. Recently we heard from the deputy minister of lands and natural resources, Benito Owusu-Bio that some GH¢2.5 million has been approved for the planting of trees [Green Ghana project]. Is it a priority? Are we protecting the existing forest? How well have we catered to those trees since the inception of this project? I want to call on government to divert resources into paying school feeding caterers and adjust the rate to GH¢3.50 as they have asked for and let’s shelve the planting of trees for this year until things normalise”.
He added, “We should put some of these expenditures on hold and then move those resources to pay the school feeding caterers their arrears and to increase the rate from the current miserable 97 pesewas per child to ¢3.50. What can 97 pesewas do today? How much is even the cost of an egg? Prices of goods have gone up, so it’s practically impossible to expect them to be able to provide a hot nutritious meal per a child”.
Dr. Apaak said it’s needless for government size to be bloated when it’s unable to finance social intervention programmes such as the school feeding programme.
“When the system is challenged, we expect those in charge of the affairs of the state to mobilise resources to ensure that the vulnerable in society are catered for. This is the time that government has to find money to ensure that programmes such as the school feeding programme are sustained because of the clientele the programme serves. Why do we need a bloated government when we need money to finance social interventions programme such as the school feeding programme? Why waste money on National Cathedral when we don’t have money to finance the school feeding programme?” he asked.
He opined that the school feeding programme needs to be sustained in the midst of the economic crisis as majority of pupils’ lives depend on it.
“Such a very important social intervention programme ought to be sustained even in the midst of self-inflicted economic crisis. We are where we are due to the lack of resources assigned to finance the programme. Why is the call for augmentation of the current rate not getting the needed attention?” Dr. Apaak questioned.