The Philippine government on Wednesday cancelled a contract to buy nine million dollars’ worth of noodles for a food aid programme designed to keep poor children in school, officials said.
Education Secretary Jesli Lapus told reporters the government rescinded the supply contract of Jeverps Manufacturing Corp., which has been accused by rivals of feeding overpriced and substandard noodles to children.
“I am cancelling the procurement because we cannot sacrifice the nutrition needs of our malnourished students and compromise the objectives of the school feeding programme,” Lapus said.
The company had won a 427 million-peso (nine million-dollar) contract to supply 19 million packs of noodles to schools involved in the programme this year, a deal that it also won in 2008.
The meals are offered to 373,440 pre-school and elementary school children in the 13 poorest provinces of the Philippines over 104 days as an incentive to keep them in classes.
Education authorities have said the high dropout rates of children of impoverished Filipinos was due to the fact that they are forced to quit school early to find work.
Rival supplier Kolonwel Trading had gone to the Senate to complain that the education department had favoured Jeverps, which it alleged was peddling noodles at prices that were triple those available in shops.
“Given the controversy generated, we are concerned that the project might not be implemented this school year 2009-2010,” Lapus said.
The new school year starts next month.