Dr Emmanuel Ayifah, Deputy Country Director, SEND GHANA; a subsidiary of SEND Foundation of West Africa, has said the Organisation was appalled at government’s consistent delays in paying cash grants to households depending on the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty Programme (LEAP).
He said delays in LEAP payments must not become the norm, adding that “we also observe a trend in providing two-cycle payments, which is often occasioned by the late release of funds” which runs contrary to the established norm of paying beneficiaries bi-monthly.
Dr Ayifah in a release copied to the Ghana News Agency (GNA), disclosed that funding for LEAP payments had become irregular and unpredictable in recent times.
He noted that the development was eroding public confidence in the effectiveness of the LEAP to eradicate poverty and address inequality, adding that it was a derision of the country’s quest to attain Sustainable Development Goals 1, 2 and 10.
“We urge the government to depart from this deviation to safeguard the financial liberties of the poor and vulnerable people who are depending on the cash transfer programme,” he said.
The Deputy Director noted that in January 2021, the government combined the 69th and 70th cycle payments that went out to 333,967 LEAP beneficiary households.
He said the 71st and 72nd cycle payments, due in March and May 2021, respectively, were delayed and paid together in June.
“The 73rd payment cycle was due in July, but our investigations have revealed that beneficiaries are yet to receive their cash support. It is uncertain when the 74th cycle, which is also now due, will be paid.”
Dr Ayifah said the delayed payment had resulted in the denial of income to 344,023 households made up of approximately 1.5 million Ghanaians who depended on LEAP for their daily sustenance.
He noted that “SEND GHANA finds the inconsistencies and incessant delays in the release of funds for LEAP payments unacceptable, especially within the context of the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic”.
The Deputy Director said they were particularly concerned that those whose livelihoods were adversely affected due to the persistent delays included orphans and vulnerable children, persons living with severe disabilities, and the aged.
He revealed that Governments around the world underscored the effectiveness of safety nets in protecting vulnerable populations in times of pandemics therefore, there was no better time for the government of Ghana to prioritise strengthening its social protection delivery than now.
Dr Ayifah implored the government to be mindful of the distressing consequences of delaying LEAP payments to beneficiaries, while calling for the release of funding for the payment of LEAP arrears without further delay while taking urgent steps to put a permanent end to “this creeping phenomenon.”