1.5 million LEAP beneficiaries not paid for four months
About 1.5 million beneficiaries of the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) program have not received their grants in the past four months.
Payment of amounts ranging from GH¢64 to GH¢106, depending on the number of qualified people in a beneficiary household, which is done every two months, has been in arrears since November last year.
The situation has led to a disruption of the incomes of the beneficiaries, identified as the poorest and most vulnerable segment of the population, who are now unable to meet their basic domestic needs such as food and nutrition needs, health care and education.
Currently, 344,023 households, or 1.5 million people, benefit from the LEAP program.
This was revealed by three civil society groups at a press conference in Accra last Thursday.
The Social Accountability Forum, the Civil Society Platform for Social Protection and the Civil Society Platform on Sustainable Development Goal 10 jointly organized the event to convince the government to quickly pay the grants to alleviate the suffering LEAP beneficiaries.
In a statement on behalf of the groups, SEND Ghana Communications Officer, Mr. Mohammed Tajudeen Abdulai, expressed concern that delays had been widespread, particularly in the past two years, ranging from one to three months in arrears.
“Since November 2019, several LEAP payments have been delayed for more than two months due to budget allocations not being released in time to the LEAP program to make payment to beneficiaries,” Mr. Abdulai said.
He further explained that “all six payments accrued from January to December 2021 have been delayed, with the payment for the November 2021 round currently pending for four months.”
Mr. Abdulai observed that on September 7, 2021, SEND Ghana issued a statement calling on the government to immediately release funds for the payment of the 73rd cycle, which was due to be paid in July 2021.
Subsequently, he noted, another press conference was organized on September 14, 2021 by SEND Ghana to again call on the government to release cash grants regularly and make the payments in due time.
“Since then, the 73rd and 74th payments have been made, but with the usual delay. The relentless delay in payments means that these households have been denied basic household consumption and nutrition, which ultimately leads to decreased access to health care and education,” he said. He underlines.
Mr Abdulai observed that LEAP households were very poor and vulnerable Ghanaians with limited economic capacity to be able to sustain such long delays in what was supposed to be a “predictable income”.
According to him, the preliminary results of field monitoring carried out in four districts – Sagnarigu in the Northern region, Ho in the Volta region, Wenchi in the Bono region and Sekondi-Takoradi in the Western region – have showed that “LEAP grantees were generally dissatisfied with the late payment of their cash grants”.
Mr. Abdulai pointed out that information regarding the specific reasons for the delays had not been effectively communicated to stakeholders.
“Our audits reveal that there have been no attempts by the LEAP Management Secretariat and the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Welfare to engage LEAP beneficiaries and other parties stakeholders on when payments will be made,” he said.
This practice, he observed, was “unacceptable and challenges the principle of good governance and accountability”.
“We therefore call on the government to immediately release funds for payment to beneficiary households to alleviate their long suffering and hardship,” Mr. Abdulai noted.
Responding to questions from some journalists, Deputy Country Director of SEND Ghana, Dr. Emmanuel Ayifah, observed that the delay in payments had nothing to do with challenges with the disbursement system or mode of payment of funds but in due to lack of funds.
He stressed the need to pass the Social Welfare Bill this year to help address some of these challenges and hold those responsible accountable, stressing that ending the LEAP program should not be an option.