Education Ministry to make payments to caterers, maxi drivers
"Our children will be fed."
This was the assurance given by Education Minister Anthony Garcia as he addressed the issues facing the National School Dietary Services Limited (NSDSL).
Caterers with the school feeding programme have complained of not being paid on time, which may have resulted in them withdrawing their services ahead of the new school year.
But Ministry officials said the matter is being resolved and meals would be provided to students come Monday.
Speaking during a media conference at the Ministry of Education in Port of Spain on Saturday, Chief Education Officer Harrilal Seecharan said arrangements have been made to make the payments to the caterers.
"The funding for payments has been identified and we’re going to work that through but in terms of the service, it will resume next week,” he said.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education Lenor Baptiste-Simmons also assured that the payments would be made.
She said the funds were made available last week and the cheques would be ready for the caterers by Monday.
The Ministry is also promising that outstanding payments to security companies will be made.
Some of the companies providing security services to schools reportedly threatened to withdraw their services ahead of the new school year if they were not paid the millions of dollars owed to them. The companies said they had not been paid in the past four months.
The Ministry assured that this, too, is being addressed and cheques are currently being processed to pay the security companies.
The Ministry allayed fears that security officers would not be present at schools on Monday, saying all schools will have a full complement of security officers on duty.
Maxi concessionaires are also set to receive their outstanding payments, Garcia said.
"We met with a delegation of maxi taxi drivers who provide the service for our students. We had a very cordial meeting and I am happy to report that everything has been settled in terms of the concerns that they have expressed and they will receive their payments shortly, in fact they have started receiving their payments since Thursday."
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