By Bright Ntramah, Jubilee House, Accra
Chief of Staff at the Office of the President, Akosua Frema Opare says the Livelihood Against Poverty, LEAP, will be expanded to cover 150,000 more beneficiaries in 2022. This will bring the total number of beneficiaries to almost 500,000.
Government is also planning to expand the School feeding programme to cover all children enrolled in public schools from Kindergarten to primary six.
Madam Frema Opare announced this when she gave a lecture at the Great Hall of the University of Ghana, legon, on Social Protection in Ghana.
She said Ghana is steadily working towards a comprehensive and universal social protection programme which is a requisite safeguard to sustainable development.
She, therefore, called on the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection to increase the pace of completing the Social Protection Bill for it to be passed into law.
The endemic nature of poverty and other forms of socio-economic vulnerabilities have been of immense concern to many countries.
Ghana has equally had its fair share of poverty syndrome resulting in the mainstreaming of numerous social protection initiatives towards salvaging the challenges posed by poverty.
Since the attainment of Independence, successive governments have introduced many social protection systems as a way of fighting poverty.
The lecture critically examined the prevailing Social interventions for poverty mitigations with proposals aimed at enhancing their effectiveness.
Chief of Staff at the Office of the President, Akosua Frema Opare, said the government is pursuing a strong social protection agenda for the vulnerable that will guarantee provision for good healthcare, education, poverty alleviation and support for persons with disability.
She said with the introduction of the capitation grant in 2003 Free SHS in 2017 the barriers of education have been broken. She noted that children, pregnant women, nursing mothers can now receive good healthcare through the Free Maternal Child healthcare policy.
”Given that the LEAP Programme as a social protection intervention is currently covering 344,023 households, the intention of the Akufo-Addo Government as stated in the 2022 National Budget is to expand coverage of the programme by 150,000 more households”.
”This means that in 2022 LEAP would reach 494,023. If we had an integrated poverty profiling system in place, potentially, LEAP would be reaching about 90% coverage” she added.
Madam Frema Opare stated, ”in addition, a major challenge is the inability of the LEAP programme to assess and exit or graduate individuals who have substantially improved their lives due to the support of the LEAP programme.There is therefore an urgent need to develop and implement an exit and graduation strategy to create more room for others to also benefit”.
As the government vigorously pursues its social protection agenda, to make it Universal, the Chief of Staff called on the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection to convene a national social protection dialogue to explore sustainable financing mechanisms of Ghana’s social protection agenda.
“Going forward, I urge the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection to increase the pace of completing the SP Bill for it to be passed into law. This will contribute to securing predictable and adequate benefits, strengthens institutional capacities, and promotes transparency and accountability”.
”There is also the need to improve coordination and strengthen the linkages between all social protection programmes to leverage resources, avoid duplications and expand coverage especially at the regional and district levels”.
”Serious consideration should be given to complementary funding from the decentralized structures of government. It is my hope that the Ministry of Finance would explore innovative financing pathways to sustain social protection in Ghana”.
The Lecture was attended by Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, Finance Minister, Ken Ofori Atta, the Greater Accra Regional Minister, Henry Quartey among others.