Persons with Disability (PWDs) have called for prompt disbursement of the Common Fund for PWDs by the district assemblies to cushion them in this economic crisis.
They said the usual delay in the disbursement was as a result of delays from the government in releasing the common fund to the various District Assemblies, and that was affecting them especially in this time of mounting inflationary pressures.
“There have always been delays in the disbursement of this PWDs Fund. As a result, we have outstanding and some quarters in arears every year, but we are pleading that times are hard so there should be prompt disbursement” Mr Samuel Budu, the Suhum district secretary of the Ghana National Society of the Physically Disabled (GSPD) said.
He said with the current economic situation, persons living with any form of disability are hardly hit because they are vulnerable and so, needed support to cushion them in their everyday activities.
Speaking to the GNA on how they are coping in this economic crisis, he noted for instance, the first and second quarter disbursement for 2021 had not been received, even though they had information that the Common Fund for same had been released to that effect.
He said people have applied for the fund for various purposes to improve their livelihoods, however, since 2021, they had not received any disbursement, which would affect the value due to the prevailing economic situation currently.
Madam Martha Gyau, a person with mobility disability told GNA that she applied for Gh¢3000 to purchase a knitting machine to expand her sewing business last year but she had not received the money and hoped that she would be given the money at the current price rate.
“I applied for the money to expand my business as part of the assembly’s needs assessment exercise. Just last week when I checked for the price of the knitting machine, it had shot up to Gh¢3,800 cedis and I do not know if they would add the difference to enable me buy”.
An undisclosed source at the Suhum Assembly told the GNA in an interview that to ensure the moneys disbursed were used for the intended purpose, the assembly had set a committee made up of representatives from the PWDs and other stakeholders to disburse the funds according to the needs for which they applied for.
He said members who applied for various assistance from the fund had been notified through their representatives that the items for which they applied for the fund would be purchased for them and so there was no cause to worry with the differences in the prices.
“We are not giving them physical cash but rather, we are procuring the items such as deep freezers and sewing machines and assistive devices, whiles medical bills, school fees and other critical bills are being paid for. Disbursement is ongoing just that we are not doing it wholesale.” .
To that end, he urged persons who had been listed for the fund to come to the assembly especially those who applied for medical and educational support with their receipts or bills for prompt payment or contact their leaders for assistance.
But Mr Budu and some other members of the GSPD are of the view that the high inflation on goods and services would affect the disbursement of the fund as some beneficiaries listed would have to add up to the increases in items supposed to be purchased for them.
“If the prices of items have tripled on deep freezers, sewing machines and assistive devices for instance, it’s obvious that some PWDs will not benefit from the fund for the period in question in order to make up the differences,” he said
As part of efforts to empower Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), government of Ghana introduced the disability fund, which is a 3% deduction from the District Assembly Common Fund (DACF) for inclusiveness.
The fund, among other things, is to support and equip PWDs in economic and business ventures and provide educational/training support and medical/health support to make them functional in life and society.
On the average, beneficiaries received money’s ranging from Gh¢1000 to Gh¢3000 per a quarter based on the 3 percent allocation from the District Assembly Common Fund to set up some small businesses or economic activities which would provide them with a sustainable source of livelihoods.
In line with that, the assembly pursuant to the disbursement of the fund usually conducts assessment needs to confirm the need of the PWDs in accessing the fund and given the funds to purchase or some instances procured for them.
The 2020 Population and Housing census estimates that over six million Ghanaians are living with some form of disability across the districts in Ghana and there is an estimation that at least there are over 500 PWDs living within Suhum district.
The United Nations (UN) conventions on the rights of PWDs, calls on member states to take effective and appropriate measures including financial support to enable them to maintain physical independence, maximum and vocational ability and full inclusion and participation in all aspects.