Accra, Feb. 1, GNA -The Government is taking steps to increase the value of the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) grant per household.
The increment is expected to improve the programme’s impact on beneficiary households.
Mr Colson Akanbasiam, Head of Communications, LEAP Management Secretariat, disclosed this in an interview with the Ghana News Agency, on Monday, in Accra.
He said the value of the grant had been of major concern to both the Secretariat, partners and beneficiaries, because it was very low, had depreciated over time and so did not make any meaningful impact in the lives of beneficiaries.
He said the grants paid to the beneficiary households were in four categories.
These are orphan and vulnerable children, the elderly-65 years and above without support, people with severe disability who cannot work, and extremely poor pregnant or lactating mothers with children under one year.
“If one category of them is identified in a household, it qualifies the household to receive GHc 64.00. If two categories are identified in one household, the household receives GHc 76.00. If three, the household qualifies to get GHc 88.00, and if there are four or above, GHc 106.00.”
According to Mr Akanbasiam, the grant was less than 16 percent of the household consumption, though global standards required that for any cash transfer programme to be very effective, the grant should be contributing not less than 20 percent of the household consumption.
“But it is also a question of the fiscal space of Government of Ghana and donors. Commitments are very high, enough data has been provided to prove to the point that the value of the grant has depreciated in view of the economic situation, inflation and cost of living. And that is why all partners are committed to making sure that there would be an increase, ” he said.
The current payment was increased in 2015.
Mr Akanbasiam said Government was working towards reassessing the beneficiary to determine their eligibility.
“We have commenced piloting of the reassessment in the five regions of the north and in each of these regions, two districts have been selected to be reassessed and the outcome would inform the national rollout.”
The Head of Communications said the implementation of the programme commenced with slightly above 1600 beneficiary households across the country but had increased with time and currently covered about 350, 000 households in all districts but not in all communities in the districts.
“Until 2016, beneficiary households were identified and selected by LEAP through targeting. However, after 2016 the Ministry of Gender Children and Social Protection, established a Ghana National Household Registry, whose mandate is to collate the data, for identification and selection of households, ” he said.
On the issue of payment mechanism, Mr Akanbasiam noted that the in the initial stages, payment was done through Ghana Post, however, over the years they had transformed to electronic payment through e-zwich, the GhIPSS’s platform, and the LEAP payment contract holders across the country.
He said some academic research findings and testimonies of beneficiaries had pointed to the fact that the programme had improved household consumption, food consumption, child education, and access to health care, among others.
“By the Health Insurance Act and an MoU signed with the Ministry of Health, all beneficiaries on the Programme are eligible to access free health insurance registration and renewal.”
He said the programme had touched and changed many lives, with most beneficiaries now having a feel of belonging with improved social integration, having invested the monies into various productive ventures, especially agriculture and petty trading.
Mr Akanbasiam said the main challenges were depreciating value of the grants, perceived politicisation, delay in payment and inadequate recognition for cash grant and social protection.
He said payments, normally done bi-monthly, were usually delayed due to the fiscal space available to government.
“But one thing about cash grant is that it must be regular and consistent for beneficiaries to plan their lives.”
Mr Akanbasiam commended partners of the programme for the continued support, which he said was benefitting the poor and the vulnerable.
LEAP is a social protection intervention aimed at reducing poverty by smoothening consumption among extremely poor households through cash grant.