Beneficiaries under the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) programme in the Tano South District of Brong-Ahafo Region, have appealed to the government to increase the quantum of the grant given them to enhance their socio-economic wellbeing.They told the Ghana News Agency (GNA) on the sideline of a public forum on using access to information to promote citizens' involvement and feedback on the LEAP programme that the amount was small considering the current economic situation in the country.
With support from the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), through Commonwealth Human Right Initiative, non-governmental organisations, the Save Environment Foundation organised the forum at Breme, near Bechem on Friday.
The LEAP programme was developed by the government in 2008 as a flagship National Protection Strategy programme to empower extremely poor population.
It is a cash transfer programme for the poorest and the most vulnerable households with particular emphasis on those with orphans and vulnerable children, the elderly and severely disabled persons.
According to the beneficiaries, since they were enrolled to enjoy the LEAP programme in 2015, there had been significant improvement in their standard of living, and expressed the optimism that the government would strengthen the programme to benefit more vulnerable people.
Madam Akosua Asor, a caregiver observed that deserving poor and vulnerable people in the local communities were not enjoying from the programme.
Mr Samuel Kyeremeh, the District Director of the Department of Social Welfare explained that 267 beneficiaries in 12 communities were placed under the programme.
He expressed concern about the incidence of child labour and exploitation in the area, and warned that culprits would be prosecuted.
Mr Kyeremeh indicated that the implementation of the LEAP programme was devoid of partisan considerations, adding that registration would be re-opened, and advised qualified people to re-register to benefit.
He explained that payments were disbursed to the beneficiaries six times in a year within two month interval and monies paid ranged between Gh?64.00, Gh?76.00, Gh?88.00, Gh?106.00 depending on the number of beneficiaries in a particular household.
Mr Kyeremeh advised the beneficiaries to ensure judicious use of the money, and asked those who could go into economic activities to do so to better their lot.
Mr Collins Osei, the Executive Director of the Save Environment Foundation, expressed concern about low public education on government’s poverty intervention policies and programmes in local communities.
He called on the government to adequately resource the Department of Social Welfare, National Commission for Civic Education and the Information Services Department to carry on with their constitutional mandates.
Mr Osei also called on Parliament to facilitate the passage of the Right to Information Bill.
Nana Boakye Yiadom Amankwaa, Chief of Breme, noted that the LEAP programme was a laudable concept and entreated the government to strengthen it.
He said there were other communities in the district, which deserved to benefit from the programme, and appealed to the institutions in-charge to extend it to those localities.
Nana Boakye also added his voice on the call for the passage of the Right to Information Bill, saying because there was no Legal Instrument it was always difficult to seek certain information from the District Assembly and other public institutions.