“Gov’t Continuous Delay In Payment Of LEAP Beneficiaries Worrisome” - SEND GHANA
SEND GHANA, a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), have expressed their dissatisfaction over the government’s demonstration of lack of commitment in releasing funding for the timely payments of grants to households depending on the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) programme across the country.
According to SEND GHANA, they have consistently urged the government to aggressively put in measures to address the continuous delays in LEAP payments but it appears however that, these calls have not elicited the necessary attention from the government.
Speaking at a press conference in Accra to address challenges and delays in the payment, the Deputy Country Director for SEND GHANA, Dr Emmanuel Ayifah stressed that, the adverse effect of the delays in the LEAP cash grant payments are mind-boggling as he says these household beneficiaries are poor since they do not have a reliable and regular source of adequate income.
He added that, as it stands now, the public is quickly losing confidence in the effectiveness of the LEAP and other such social protection programmes which seeks to defeat poverty and address inequality, owing to rampant delays in paying beneficiaries grants.
Dr Ayifah stressed that the public is quickly losing confidence in the effectiveness of the LEAP and other such social protection programmes to defeat poverty and address inequality, owing to rampant delays in paying beneficiaries grants as he invited all and sundry to join SEND GHANA to collectively urge the government to take decisive actions to bring a permanent end to the incessant delays in releasing funding for LEAP and other pro-poor interventions.
We remind the government again that citizens have the right to social protection, therefore, the government's commitment to protecting such rights must not be fulfilled only partially.
In concluding, he said, aside from their call for the government to put an end to the delayed LEAP grant payments, they would like to use the opportunity to also implore the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Gender Children and Social Protection, to as a matter of priority, take decisive actions in the 2022 budget statement and economic policy, which is currently under preparation, to improve social protection delivery in the country.
He noted that some four critical actions which are worth considering include the Ghana National Household Registry (GNHR), which looks at the importance to prioritise the completion of the nationwide household poverty profiling through the GNHR to improve targeting of social protection programmes. We are informed that so far only 5 out of the 16 regions have their GNHR completed.
He added that financing for social protection interventions is the limited fiscal space for social protection financing, which is playing out for instance, in the incessant delayed LEAP payment. We, therefore, recommend to the government to create fiscal space to enhance social protection implementation and sustainable financing, by instituting a national fund for social protection to ensure the sustainability of social protection programmes.
“Coverage of Flagship Social Protection Interventions: Each social protection programme has a target population and it is important that the budget is committed to ensuring the programmes meet their target in terms of coverage. For instance, the LEAP programme is supposed to cover all extremely poor households in the country. Per the latest Ghana Living Standard Survey (GLSS) 7 data, that is 2.4 million people. But LEAP coverage stands at almost 1.5 million people. We have around 900, 000 extremely poor households who are waiting to be enrolled on the programme. We can say the same for the Ghana School Feeding Programme and the NHIS indigent group” he stressed.
He mentioned the social protection bill of which he explained that it is important to provide the needed resources to finalise the draft social protection bill to be submitted to Parliament for approval, because it seeks to secure the rights of Ghanaians to social protection, secure financing for the sector, promotes coordination and integration of programmes and provides guidelines for setting up social protection institutional structures from national to the local levels.
Dr Ayifah noted that, certainly, inequality is not inevitable or preordained, but the result of deliberate policy choices, and with our collective effort, it can be addressed.
Story by: Joshua Kwabena Smith