The National Food Buffer Stock Company (NAFCO) has revealed that steps are being taken to address the payment concerns of the National Food Suppliers Association, following a request made by the Ministry of Education to the Finance Ministry for the funds release.
This development follows a demand by the suppliers for the settlement of their 18 months' outstanding payments within a 14-day ultimatum, warning of potential protests at the premises of NAFCO.
Speaking to Citi News, Hanan Abdul-Wahab, the Chief Executive Officer of NAFCO, attributed the delay in payment to the prevailing economic difficulties faced by the country.
“Yes, we owe them, and with the kind of system Buffer Stock operates, at any point in time, we would owe suppliers. Suppliers' invoices keep coming in, so, at any point in time, we will owe suppliers. As to the number of months that we owe them, I am not sure about that, but what I know is that they have been here on several occasions trying to find out why their payments are delaying,” explained Abdul-Wahab.
He further elaborated on the challenges faced, stating, “The reasons being that we are not living in normal times. We started this business in September 2017, and we have never encountered such issues before, so for us to find ourselves in this situation, we all know where we are now in the world in terms of economic issues, and it is a result of Covid-19 and other factors. But nevertheless, efforts are in place to make sure that they get their money so that they can also settle their financial institutions, as most of them have said that they have taken [loan] facilities.”