SEND GHANA, a non-profit organization, has appealed to the Government to prioritise the payment of LEAP grant to enhance poverty reduction in the country.
Dr Emmanuel Ayifah, Deputy Country Director, SEND GHANA, said the undue and incessant delay in payment of the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) grants were worsening the plight of beneficiaries.
He added that, the current delayed payment had resulted in the denial of income to 344,023 households made up of approximately 1.5 million Ghanaians who depended on it for their daily sustenance including orphans and vulnerable children, people living with severe disabilities, and elderly people without any support.
Speaking at a press conference organised by SEND GHANA, on the delay of the payments of LEAP grants to beneficiaries, on Tuesday in Accra, Dr Ayifah said the adverse effect of the delays in the LEAP cash grant payments were not farfetched.
The households, he explained, were poor because they did not have reliable and regular source of adequate income, hence, the promise of a bi-monthly income flow seemed very important in their budget, the LEAP beneficiary household's budget could be thrown overboard where the expected cash inflows delayed.
The Deputy Country Director said, it could affect the nutrition, education and health of beneficiary household members, thus, rendering household members much more miserable than they were initially.
He said it behooved Government to place high premium on the LEAP grant payments and on effective and efficient social protection delivery now, especially due to the COVID-19 pandemic since it could potentially worsen the widening inequality already present in the country.
"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," he said.
Dr Ayifah said the Organisation had consistently urged the government to aggressively put in measures to address the continuous delays in the LEAP payments, however, it appeared that the calls had not elicited the necessary attention.
"In January 2021, the government combined the 69th and 70th cycle payments that went out to 333,967 LEAP beneficiary households, 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 revealed that beneficiaries are yet to receive their cash support. It is unclear when the 74th cycle, which is also now due, will be paid," he said.
He urged the Ministries of Finance and the Gender Children and Social Protection to take decisive actions in the 2022 budget statement and economic policy, to improve social protection delivery including the Ghana National Household Registry, Financing for social protection interventions, Coverage of Flagship Social Protection Interventions and Social protection bill.