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Voters want LEAP expansion as key campaign promise

BY: Kester Aburam Korankye

A study that surveyed the demands of citizens ahead of the 2020 general elections has found that most voters would like to see the expansion of the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) featured highly in the campaign promises of the political parties.


A report on the survey dubbed the Citizen’s Manifesto indicated that the expansion of the LEAP programme to cover all eligible beneficiaries was prominent in the views collated from the public on their expectations of political party manifestos.

The study was undertaken by SEND Ghana, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), about two months ago.

The report, however, noted that none of the two main parties, the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) included the expansion of the programme in their manifestos.

It said they had either not mentioned the LEAP initiative in their manifestos or had done so scantly in the document that was expected to serve as the blueprint of their governance should they win power.
 

Details of proposal

Among other things, the Citizen's Manifesto detailed the demands and the recommendations of citizens and their expectations of what political parties should concern themselves with to be able to put together a manifesto that would resonate with the aspirations of the public.

The study recommended that the political parties had to commit to the expansion of the LEAP to capture all the eligible beneficiaries and also increase the financial support to the beneficiaries by 100 per cent.

“This could be done by a regular grant review process such that amounts are adjusted regularly in line with prevailing inflation rates. This will ensure that purchasing power of beneficiaries are not eroded,” the study said.

The SEND Ghana study said respondents expected the the winner of the polls to take into consideration the household size of the beneficiaries to determine the grant amount to be given to them.

Respondents also demanded the introduction of complementary services to capture other needs of beneficiaries such as school uniforms, free textbooks among others, it added.

Status of LEAP.

The LEAP initiative involves the disbursement of grants to individuals and households living under extreme poverty.

It has been running since 2008 and currently caters for about 334,084 households across nationwide.

Presently, there are about 750,000 eligible Ghanaians on the waiting list of programme aside the 1.4 million beneficiaries seeking the improvement of the intervention which has now become the lifeline for some families in extremely poor areas.

Party's position

When contacted, the National Communications Officer of the NDC, Mr Samuel Gyamfi told the Daily Graphic in an interview that the party's manifesto was created from the views of the ordinary Ghanaian and reflected their true aspirations.

My Gyamfi said the party’s 2020 manifesto promised to “establish an Emergency Response LEAP Grant Programme” which he said would address the concerns of the people surveyed infor the Citizen's Manifesto report.

On the other hand, the NPP 2020 manifesto was silent on the LEAP programme as there was no promise captured in the document that spoke directly to the intervention.

In an interview with the Daily Graphic, the Director of Communications of the NPP, Mr Yaw Buabeng Asamoah, said the LEAP programme was not captured in the NPP 2020 manifesto because “it’s still running”.

He said the programme was already being improved by the government and, therefore, the was no need to capture it again in the manifesto as a campaign promise.

“We are already implementing it and the Gender Ministry is responsible for that so we will not make it a campaign promise. It is a government programme,” he said.

Beneficiaries

The payment structure of the programme was designed in a way that discouraged beneficiaries from being adamant in pursuing alternative sources of income.

Proponents of the initiative say LEAP was calibrated in a way that doesn’t make the cash transfers look like a wage but rather an aid to cushion beneficiaries, while they find better ways of sustaining themselves.