SEND GHANA, Social Accountability Forum, Civil Society Platform for Social Protection, and the Civil Society Platform on SDG 10, have called on government to immediately release funding for payment to LEAP beneficiary households to alleviate their long-suffering and hardships.
According to the CSOs, at a press conference in Accra on 24th February, 2022, at the MJ Grand Hotel Ltd, government (Ministry of Finance) should ensure that grants are transferred to the appropriate agency on who will also ensure that beneficiaries receive their grant on the due dates.
Mr Mohammed Tajudeen Abdulai, Communication Officer at SEND GHANA who read the speech on behalf of the Social Accountability Forum, Civil Society Platform for Social Protection, Civil Society Platform on SDG 10 and SEND GHANA, Indicated that, the consistent delays and irregularities in payment is derailing the programme’s impact of reducing poverty and promoting access to services and opportunities among the extreme poor and vulnerable.
Adding that, it is worthy of note that information regarding the specific reasons for the delays has not been effectively communicated to stakeholders.
“Our checks reveal that, there has not been any attempt by the LEAP Management Secretariat (LMS) and the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP) to engage the LEAP beneficiaries and other relevant stakeholders on when payment will be made. This practice, in our view, is unacceptable and defies the principle of good governance and accountability.
LEAP is one of the flagship programmes that continue to benefit the extremely poor and vulnerable populations and it is supposed to decrease poverty in Ghana and to provide a better life for the beneficiary households,” He emphasized.
Mr. Tajudeen, further stressed, “Our collective efforts in attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SOGs) to end poverty, hunger and reduce inequalities by 2030 would be pointless if we allow needless infractions to undermine impactful social protection interventions such as LEAP.”
“These delays have especially been pervasive in the past couple of years and, such delays often range from one (I) to three (3) months.
Since November 2019, multiple LEAP payments have been delayed by more than two (2) months due to budget allocations not being disbursed on time to the LEAP Programme to effect payment to the beneficiaries.
All the six (6) payments accrued for January — December 2021 were delayed, with the cycle payment for November 2021 currently outstanding for three (3) months and that of January 2022 also overdue.
These delays have resulted in major disruption of income to 1.5 million poor and vulnerable Ghanaians.
On 7th September 2021, SEND issued a statement calling on the government to immediately release funds for payment of the 73rd cycle, which was due in July 2021.
Subsequently another press conference was held on 14th September 2021 by SEND to again call on the government to release cash grants regularly and make timely payments.
Since then, the 73rd and 74th payments have been made albeit the usual delays. Currently, 344,023 Households benefit from the cash grants per the 2022 budget statement.
The incessant delays in payments mean these households have been denied basic household consumption and nutrition, which eventually leads to a decrease in access to healthcare and education.
LEAP households are very poor and vulnerable Ghanaians, with a limited economic capacity to sustain such long delays in what is supposed to be predictable income.
LEAP’s rigorous impact evaluations show that participating households use the cash transfers to afford basic needs such as food, education, and health-related costs, and to make investments in economic activities.
The evidence also shows how LEAP has helped families to increase food consumption thereby improving household food security.
The delays, therefore, mean that extreme poor families that are already in precarious situations are not able to afford basic necessities in the context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its broader socio-economic impacts.
This unfortunate development undoubtedly questions government’s commitment towards social protection and often decreases public confidence in the entire policy.
Preliminary results from field monitoring in four districts (Saganarigu, Ho, Wenchi, and Secondi-Takoradi) showed that LEAP beneficiaries were generally dissatisfied with the late payment of their cash grants. Data collection took place from November December 2021,” He disclosed.