Suspended school feeding boss fires back: 'I have not engaged in malfeasance'
The suspended National Coordinator of the Ghana School Feeding Programme, Dr Kwame Adu-Nsiah, has denied allegations that he paid monies to caterers who have not been assigned to any school by the outfit.
In a press release issued in Accra on Monday, December 17, Dr Adu-Nsiah stated, “I have not engaged directly or indirectly in any malfeasance by awarding contracts to fictitious caterers, bloating enrollment figures and creating non-existing schools in the payment file.”
A letter from the Ministry of Gender Children and Social Protection that leaked to the media last week said the Ministry received from National Security containing the following accusations against Dr Adu-Nsiah:
-Inflation of enrolment figures of some schools under the GSFP,
-Catering contracts for some schools which do not exist but have been awarded to fictitious caterers who have been paid a total of GHS141, 075 for the third term of 2017/2018 academic year;
-Some names of caterers were identified to be involved in the ongoing malfeasance with non-existing schools assigned to them as well as
-Inflation of enrolment figures of some schools under the GSFP compared to the figures of the Ghana Education Service (GES) for the 2017/2018 academic year.
But in a rebuttal, published in full below, the suspended School Feeding National Coordinator states that he had taken states to cure some of the issues raised against him and his team at the Secretariat.
Read the full release below;
It is not my style to easily go to the press with issues that are supposed to be handled or discussed internally in any organization or association I find myself. However, the current mainstream media and social media bashings and accusations of financial malfeasance leave me and my team at the Ghana School Feeding Programme national secretariat with no option, than to state the facts for the avoidance of doubt or mischief.
Following our reconciliation of third term payment files, we noticed some anomalies in the data received from the Sekyere East District of the Ashanti Region, that;
1. Schools have been duplicated,
2. Enrollment figures inflated
3. And names of non-existing caterers have been presented for payment.
As a result, I, the National Coordinator of the GSFP dispatched a two-member team led by the Deputy Director in charge of Monitoring and Evaluation for Ashanti Region to Sekyere East District to investigate the issues.
The team spoke to some key stakeholders in the district including the heads of implicated schools and Ghana Education Service District Directors. The findings confirmed the report that schools have been duplicated, enrollment figures inflated and some caterers who did not cook have also been paid as detected by the investigation team.
I must also state that the GSFP currently has no Zonal Coordinator in the Sekyere East District and thus relies on the Regional Coordinator for oversight responsibility over the district.
I must also state emphatically that data to build the caterer payment files are sought from the districts. Therefore, the Sekyere East District payment file was sent to the National Secretariat through the Ashanti Regional Coordinator’s office with authorization from the District Chief Executive for Sekyere East District, Hon Mary Boatemaa Marfo.
The Secretariat, therefore, relied on that data once it was authorized by the District Chief Executive and issued payment accordingly.
The GSFP Secretariat has since written a demand letter dated 3rd December 2018 to the DCE for a refund of an amount of GHC251,585.50 which covers the total wrong payment of the duplicated school into our Bank of Ghana High Street account, as a result of the fictitious data presented to the Secretariat.
I was taken aback when my attention was drawn to the circulation of a purported letter accusing me of financial impropriety in the media and on social media platforms, even though I had not received my copy from my Hon. Minister, Cynthia Morrison until today 14th December 2018, after my reputation as a Medical Doctor and National Coordinator of GSFP had been smudged.
I must also state that the issues raised had already been addressed by my good self two weeks ago in a letter dated 3rd December 2018 to the DCE for Sekyere East for the recovery of funds (GHC251,585.50) far in excess of what was stated in the letter addressed to me (GHC141,075).
I strongly want to believe that the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection did not circulate my suspension letter to the media.
I also wish to state that I have not engaged directly or indirectly in any malfeasance by awarding contracts to fictitious caterers, bloating enrollment figures and creating non-existing schools in the payment file.
The GSFP payment file procedure is a very transparent process where data is sought at the district collated at the Regional Secretariat, validated and transferred to the National Secretariat.
The final payment file is reviewed by the Internal Auditor of the Ministry before payment is effected through GhIPSS (Ghana Inter-bank Payment and Settlement Systems).
I must also state this third term caterer payment file in question was reviewed by all Regional and Zonal Coordinators before final transfer to GhIPSS for payment to be effected to caterers.
I must admit that this anomaly happened as a result of the absence of a Zonal Coordinator to oversee the Sekyere East District. However, we relied on the integrity of the DCE to submit accurate data prior to the appointment of a Zonal Coordinator.
The incident is regrettable, an action that affects the interest of children in deprived communities. The media ought to have been circumspect in putting out this information without recourse to the Secretariat for clarification.
Again, the negative press has implications on the GSFP implementation and our relationship with our esteemed development partners.
Dr Kwame Adu-Nsiah
Ghana School Feeding Programme