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Govt begins payments for caterers

by Sunday Express
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Ntsebeng Motsoeli

GOVERNMENT has begun paying caterers who have been providing meals to learners in primary schools since the beginning of the 2019 academic year.

This was said by the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Education and training responsible for Basic Education, Neo Liphoto.

The caterers had not been paid for the provision of meals to learners in primary school across the country for the last five months. The caterers provide food to learners under the government’s national schools’ feeding programme.

Through the programme, the education ministry awards tenders to locals to provide daily meals to the learners. The caterers are supposed to be paid on a monthly basis depending of the number of learners they would have fed.

In a recent interview with the Sunday Express, Dr Liphoto said the government had already processed payments and some carters had already been paid.

“The processing of payments began in the last week of May,” Dr Liphoto said.

“We understand that some carters had their bank accounts deactivated due to lack of activity. The ministry regrets this development and we are calling on such people to reactivate their accounts so that they can get their money.

“Some people have already been paid and we do not anticipate any more delays going forward. The expectation is that all carters will be paid as soon as possible and they will be paid for all the five months for which they were owed since the beginning of the year.”

Despite Dr Liphoto’s assurances of full payments, some caterers have alleged that they were only paid for the months of January and February.

A Leribe-based caterer recently told the Sunday Express that “we have not paid the full amounts that we are owed”.

“We are still behind in our debt payments because what we have so far received from government is not enough to cover what we owe our creditors. We had to borrow money from elsewhere to purchase the food so that we can continue feeding the learners. The little, staggered payment from government has not helped us in any way,” the carter said on condition of anonymity.

She said due to non-payment by government, some carters had since stopped providing meals to learners because they could no longer afford the necessary supplies to prepare the meals.

“We do not know what is going to happen to those who had to stop providing meals. Our fear is that they could have lost their contracts all together. They had no option but to stop because they had run out of money to buy the food supplies. It is sad how our government has treated us,” the carter said.




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