Minister of Education, Hon. Andrew Holness, has disclosed that the Government is seeking to divest Nutrition Products Limited (NPL), as it seeks to make the state-owned company more efficient in meeting the nutrition needs of students.
“It is not the intention of the Ministry to continue much longer with Nutrition Products Limited…it was always the intention that that operation be divested. We have started the process of looking into how best we could divest… we have to, at this point, look at the efficiency of the operation, because the capital investment that is required will not be in the budget of the Ministry of Education any time soon,” Mr. Holness said.
He was responding to questions posed by Central Kingston Member of Parliament, Rev. Ronald Thwaites in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (February 22) about the school feeding programme and the level of nutrition being provided by the Government in schools.
NPL produces various baked products that are fortified with the necessary nutrients and vitamins to meet a third of the recommended daily caloric needs of school-age children. Some 136,000 students across 836 schools at the early childhood, primary and junior high levels, benefit from the programme.
Students are asked to make a contribution of $2 to the snacks supplied, but are not denied if they are unable to make that contribution.
“The $2 contribution is well below the $30 unit cost to produce the snacks. This year, the Ministry spent $780 million on the operations of Nutrition Products Limited,” Mr. Holness informed.
In the meantime, he told the House that once the company is divested, it will be easier for local suppliers of eggs, for example, to work with the private providers to meet capital costs to incorporate that product into the snacks supplied by NPL. Currently, eggs, and certain types of juices are not used in the programme due to storage cost and insufficient storage facilities.
The Education Minister said that every effort is being made to include local eggs and juices into the programme, as the Ministry and NPL are fully supportive of the inclusion of local goods.
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