Political parties urged to prioritise social protection programmes

Accra, May 23, GNA – Political parties have been tasked to prioritise social protection programmes in their manifestos ahead of the December Election to improve the livelihoods of the poor and the vulnerable in society.

A statement signed by Mr George Osei Akoto-Bimpeh, the Country Director of SEND-Ghana, and copied to the Ghana News Agency on Saturday, said there could not be a better time to have a conversation on social protection than now, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic could potentially worsen the widening inequalities in the country.

It said the 2020 election presented a greater opportunity for Ghanaians to put some of the many issues confronting the poor and vulnerable on the national agenda as political parties campaigned for the people’s mandate.

The statement focused on the results of a survey on Ghanaians’ expectations of political parties’ policy to address poverty and inequality.

The survey results demanded political parties to expand the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) programme to cover all the 750,000 extremely poor persons waiting to be enrolled onto the programme.

The LEAP programme currently covers 1,650,000 extremely poor persons out of the 2.4 million currently in the country.

The survey appealed to the parties to increase financial support to beneficiaries of LEAP by 100 per cent to ensure that they met their basic needs and establish a mechanism for review to reflect the prevailing inflation rate.

On health, the survey urged politicians to expand the coverage of the National Health Insurance Scheme to include hepatitis, cancers, snake bites, chronic diseases and essential drugs.

It suggested the establishment of a dedicated source of funding for social protection programmes.

Touching on the limited coverage of School Feeding Programme, the survey called for its expansion to cover all public basic schools while the Secretariat be made an authority to control political interference.

Caterers on the programme should be recruited from recognised associations and not by political affiliations, the statement said, and called for improved monitoring to ensure value for money.