The Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Cynthia Mamle Morrision, has swiftly moved into action by taking some drastic measures aimed at sanitising the Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP) system.
One of such measures is a directive to the Youth Employment Agency (YEA) Chief Executive Officer to carry out a nationwide comprehensive verification and validation exercise for all service providers in the GSFP system.
“I would be most grateful if you could kindly use your good office to carry out a nationwide comprehensive assessment (verification, validation etc.) of the Ghana School Feeding Programme”, a letter signed by the minister and addressed to the CEO of the Youth Employment Agency read in part.
The data to be produced out of this exercise, the Gender Minister believes, will play a major role in cleaning the system and also updating the ministry’s records for credible payments.
The Gender Minister mentioned numerous challenges facing the school feeding programme and cost-effectiveness as the main reasons for the validation exercise.
Her action follows the 2018 Auditor General’s Report that has revealed financial irregularities in the GSFP, leading to huge financial losses to the state in running the Ghana School Feeding Programme.
Eighty-one Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) and management of the programme have been blamed for the mismanagement.
Bloated enrolment figures, duplication of schools, and payment of grants to non-existent caterers in the 2017-2018 academic year – as well as under-declaration of revenue from sale of application forms, according to the report, account for huge losses running into millions of cedis.
The report accuses the 81 MMDAs of declaring only GH¢194,383 from an amount of GH¢1.09million purportedly realised from the sale of 21,880 application forms, sold to caterers who applied for contracts.
That means an amount of GH¢899,617 from the sale of application forms was unaccounted for, and has been outstanding since 2017.
These revelations are contained in the report already forwarded to Parliament. The report also singles out the Sekyere East district particularly for padding the enrolment figures and manipulation of data.
In responding to the request, the CEO of Youth Employment Agency, Mr. Justin Kodua, has deployed about 700 Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) officers across the country for the exercise, which commences on August 26, 2019.
The exercise seeks to clean the GSFP irregularities as reported by Auditor General, and will be done through the use of a very credible computer software application powered by Millennium Promise Alliance, an international NGO working with the Ministry of Gender and YEA.
The software provided by Millennium Promise Alliance, according to experts in the field, has been proven to clean-up such corrupt systems in some other jurisdictions on the continent.