July 25, 2024
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Government’s delay in LEAP payments deepens hardship for vulnerable Ghanaians ~ CSOs

According to the CSOs, Ghanaians under the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) programs are facing untold hardships due to the delay in the disbursement of grants.

In a press release dated June 17, the groups indicated that “this delay has left vulnerable Ghanaians, including the elderly, orphans and vulnerable children, very poor pregnant women and lactating mothers with infants under a year, and persons with severe disabilities without productive capacity, in dire straits amid cost of living increasing by 15% over the past year and food prices rising by 20%. This highlights a significant breach of trust and duty by the government.:

They acknowledged the government’s efforts in the past year to increase LEAP benefits and disburse grants at the increased rate in 2023 albeit with some delays.

The groups also acknowledged the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP) and the Ministry of Finance (MoF) for introducing an inflation-based indexation mechanism to adjust LEAP benefits annually, ensuring that the real value of the benefits is preserved against inflation

“To further support the most vulnerable during economic adjustments, the Government of Ghana decided to double the LEAP grant value again in 2024, from the 2023 target. This marks the first instance of the LEAP grant being doubled in two consecutive years (2023 and 2024),” the CSOs noted.

However, they stated that the government have not only failed to meet the IMF bailout negotiations for a timely disbursement of LEAP grants to support vulnerable households but this delay is particularly detrimental as it coincides with a period of increasing inflation and economic instability.

Additionally, “for many elderly beneficiaries, LEAP grants are a lifeline. These funds are often their only source of income, enabling them to purchase food, medication, and other essential items. The delays, which have stretched to as long as four months, mean that many elderly individuals are forced to make impossible choices between eating and buying medicine,” the CSOs stated.

They added that for orphans and vulnerable children, this comes with proud ripple effects as the LEAP benefit is supposed to support their education, nutrition, and basic needs.

The CSOs called for immediate action to alleviate the suffering of vulnerable Ghanaians and to restore confidence in the government’s social protection initiatives.

“The delayed LEAP payments represent not only a breach of trust but a pressing humanitarian crisis. As inflation continues to rise, the government must prioritize the needs of its most vulnerable citizens and expedite the disbursement of these crucial grants.”

“This is not just about fulfilling a promise made during bailout negotiations; it is about upholding the dignity and well-being of Ghanaians who depend on this support to survive. The timeliness of LEAP payments is also critical to achieving the programme’s positive social and economic objectives.”

Read the full statement below:

PRESS STATEMENT:
Government’s Delay in LEAP Payments is a Betrayal and Deepens Hardship for Vulnerable Ghanaians

For Immediate Release
Accra, Ghana – June 17, 2024

The persistent delay in the disbursement of Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) grants is exacerbating the hardships vulnerable Ghanaians face. Despite the government’s commitment to prompt payment of these grants as a condition of the recent International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout negotiations, the process remains disappointingly sluggish. This delay has left vulnerable Ghanaians, including the elderly, orphans and vulnerable children, very poor pregnant women and lactating mothers with infants under 1 year, and persons with severe disabilities without productive capacity, in dire straits amid cost of living increasing by 15% over the past year and food prices rising by 20%. This highlights a significant breach of trust and duty by the government.

The Civil Society Platform on the Sustainable Development Goal 10, the Social Accountability Forum, and the Civil Society Platform for Social Protection jointly issued this Press statement to prevail on the government to expeditiously pay the grants to ameliorate the suffering of the LEAP beneficiaries.

The LEAP initiative is recognized as one of the five primary social intervention programmes being enhanced to assist the poor and vulnerable populations. By the end of 2023, the LEAP programme had extended its reach to approximately 350,580 households, benefiting around 1.5 million individuals nationwide.

As part of its efforts to mitigate the impact of rising living costs on the poor and vulnerable, the Government of Ghana, through the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP) and the Ministry of Finance (MoF), increased the monthly LEAP benefit levels by 100% in the 2023 National Budget (Pg. 86; Para. 371). Prior to this 2023 adjustment, the transfer level had only been revised twice: in January 2012 and September 2015. Despite some delays, the government fulfilled its commitment by disbursing all six LEAP cycles at the increased grant value for 2023.

Additionally, in September 2023, the Cabinet approved a structural benchmark developed by the MoGCSP in collaboration with MoF. This benchmark introduced an inflation-based indexation mechanism to adjust LEAP benefits annually, ensuring that the real value of the benefits is preserved against inflation (2024 Budget statement pg. 65 para. 292).

To further support the most vulnerable during economic adjustments, the Government of Ghana decided to double the LEAP grant value again in 2024, from the 2023 target. This marks the first instance of the LEAP grant being doubled in two consecutive years (2023 and 2024). The goal is to cover 20% of pre-transfer household consumption over the next few years through periodic benefits adjustments, reassessments, and continuous monitoring and evaluation of the LEAP programme (2024 Budget statement pg. 65 para. 294).

Key Issues:

Government Commitment: As part of the IMF bailout negotiations, the government pledged to ensure the timely disbursement of LEAP grants to support vulnerable households. However, this promise has not been fulfilled, undermining trust and the effectiveness of the programme.
Delayed Payments: The delayed payments are particularly detrimental as they coincide with a period of increasing inflation and economic instability. Evidence shows that regular, predictable cash transfers that keep pace with inflation and are delivered over an adequate period can play a crucial role in enhancing household resilience to future shocks. First, cash transfers can facilitate the diversification of livelihoods and income streams. Second, by providing a regular and predictable source of income, beneficiary households can better anticipate and plan for contingencies (including through increased savings), thereby shielding them from resorting to harmful coping mechanisms (like selling off assets or sending children to work or girls to be married) when confronted with income shocks.
Impact on Vulnerable Populations:
o The Elderly and their struggles: For many elderly beneficiaries, LEAP grants are a lifeline. These funds are often their only source of income, enabling them to purchase food, medication, and other essential items. The delays, which have stretched to as long as four months, mean that many elderly individuals are forced to make impossible choices between eating and buying medicine. This is not just a financial issue; it is a matter of dignity and survival.
o Impact on Orphans and Vulnerable Children: LEAP grants are supposed to support their education, nutrition, and basic needs. When these payments are delayed, the ripple effects are profound. Children may miss school because their guardians cannot afford school fees or supplies, and their health can suffer due to inadequate nutrition. This undermines the very purpose of the LEAP programme, which is to break the cycle of poverty by investing in the most vulnerable members of society.
o Persons with Severe Disabilities: Those with severe disabilities and without productive capacity are among the hardest hit. Many of them rely on LEAP grants for their daily sustenance and care. The lack of timely financial support exacerbates their already challenging circumstances, leading to increased isolation and vulnerability. The government’s failure to provide these funds on time is a stark reminder of how marginalized these individuals are within our society
o Very Poor Pregnant Women and Lactating Mothers: For these persons, LEAP grants are vital for ensuring proper nutrition and healthcare. Delays in payments can lead to severe malnutrition and health complications for both mothers and their infants.
Call to Action: We urgently call on the government to honour its commitment to the timely payment of LEAP grants. Immediate action is required to alleviate the suffering of vulnerable Ghanaians and to restore confidence in the government’s social protection initiatives. The delayed LEAP payments represent not only a breach of trust but a pressing humanitarian crisis.

As inflation continues to rise, the government must prioritize the needs of its most vulnerable citizens and expedite the disbursement of these crucial grants. This is not just about fulfilling a promise made during bailout negotiations; it is about upholding the dignity and well-being of Ghanaians who depend on this support to survive. The timeliness of LEAP payments is also critical to achieving the programme’s positive social and economic objectives.

In conclusion, the government must take immediate and decisive action to rectify the delays in LEAP payments. This issue transcends political and economic debates; it touches on the core of human dignity and the right to a basic standard of living. The elderly, orphans and vulnerable children, and persons with severe disabilities deserve better. They deserve a government that honours its commitments and puts their needs first. Anything less is a betrayal of trust and a failure of leadership.

For further information, please contact:

Auberon Jeleel Odoom
Convenor, SDG Sub platform Goal 10

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