- arrears build up in double cycles
Funds for the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty Programme (LEAP) have become irregular and unpredictable – occasioned by delays in the payments of cash grants to households depending on the initiative, a recent assessment of disbursement trends by SEND Ghana, a policy research and advocacy civil society organisation, has indicated.
In January 2021, government combined the 69th and 70th cycle payments that went out to 333,967 LEAP beneficiary households. The 71st and 72nd cycle payments, which were due in March and May this year, were delayed and paid in June.
The 73rd payment cycle which was due in July, according to SEND Ghana, is yet to be paid to beneficiaries; casting uncertainties as to when the 74th cycle, which is also due, will be paid.
The delays in payments, according to the organisation, has resulted in the denial of income to 344,023 households made up of approximately 1.5 million Ghanaians who depend on the programme for their daily sustenance. The current trend negates and runs contrary to the established norm of paying beneficiaries on a bi-monthly basis.
A statement from SEND Ghana to the B&FT indicated that the current trend of providing two-cycle payments, which is often occasioned by late release of funds, is disturbing.
The statement, signed by Deputy Country Director Dr. Emmanuel Ayifah, implored government to be mindful of the distressful consequences of the delays to beneficiaries, and called on authorities to release funds for immediate payment of the arrears while taking steps to put a permanent end to the creeping phenomenon.
Impacts of COVID-19
SEND Ghana said the inconsistencies and incessant delays in releasing funds for LEAP payments is unacceptable, especially within the context of a ravaging COVID-19 pandemic. Those whose livelihoods are adversely affected due to the persistent delays in payments include orphans and vulnerable children, persons living with disabilities and the aged.
In this pandemic, governments around the world underscore the effectiveness of safety nets in protecting vulnerable populations. The organisation noted that the pandemic presents a better time for government to prioritise strengthening its social protection initiatives.
What is the LEAP?
The LEAP is Ghana’s flagship social protection programme, which provides bi-monthly cash payments to extremely poor households in all districts of the country. In addition to the cash transfer, LEAP offers free registration in the National Health Insurance Scheme.