Chief of Staff at the Office of the President, Akosua Frema Osei Opare, says the Livelihood Against Poverty (LEAP) will be expanded to cover 150,000 more beneficiaries next year; to bring the total number of beneficiaries to almost 500,000.
The government, according to her, is also planning to expand the School Feeding Programme to cover all children enrolled in public schools from Kindergarten to primary six.
Madam Frema Opare announced this when she gave a lecture at the Great Hall of the University of Ghana, Legon, on Social Protection in Ghana.
She said Ghana is steadily working towards a comprehensive and universal social protection programme which is a requisite safeguard to sustainable development. The Chief of Staff said the social protection agenda of the Akufo-Addo administration will ensure that no one who ought to benefit from same is left out.
Ghana’s National Social Protection Policy defines social protection as “a range of actions carried out by the state and other parties in response to vulnerability and poverty, which seek to guarantee relief for those sections of the population who for any reason are not able to provide for themselves.”
Ghana’s Social Protection story, according to the Chief of Staff, “has been an evolving system, which has steadily increased its scale and functionalities over time”, the evidence of which is in a “number of relevant social protection programmes that have clear benefits for the poor and vulnerable” in Ghana.
Madam Osei-Opare added “the country through President Akufo-Addo’s government, is “pursuing a strong social protection agenda for the vulnerable that increasingly guarantees provision for good healthcare, education, poverty alleviation and support for persons with disability.”
She enumerated some policies stressing “we have broken the barriers to basic education for all through the introduction of the capitation grant by the Kufuor administration in 2003. We have broken the barriers to secondary education for all through the Free SHS programme by the Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo administration from 2017.”
“Now, children, pregnant women, nursing mothers can receive good healthcare through the Free Maternal Child healthcare policy introduced in 2008 by the Kufuor Administration. Now, a person with disability knows that government would provide opportunity for education, social participation, and economic empowerment opportunities through the operationalisation of the PWD 2006, Act 715 and the DACF support,” the Chief of Staff said.
She noted that “many households in extreme poor conditions can have access to a comprehensive social support including cash grant to support consumption through LEAP as introduced in 2008, good healthcare for the indigents through the NHIS as introduced in 2003.
“Most children in public schools now receive one hot meal a day and through the commitment of our President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo we can look forward to the very near future where every child who goes to a public school would be fed through the school feeding programme.”
As government vigorously pursues its social protection agenda, to make it universal, she called on the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection to increase the pace of completing the Social Protection Bill for it to be passed into law; further urging the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection “to convene a national social protection dialogue, of all key stakeholders in order to identify sustainable financing mechanisms, generate stakeholder commitment, explore sustainable public-private partnerships and to unlock innovative ideas to tighten the delivery of Ghana’s social protection agenda so that nobody is left out.”
The Chief of Staff said the government is also pursuing a strong social protection agenda for the vulnerable that will guarantee provision for good healthcare, education, poverty alleviation, and support for persons with disability.
The lecture was attended by Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta, Greater Accra Regional Minister Henry Quartey, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Professor Nana Aba Appiah Amfo and Chairman of the University of Ghana Alumni Association (UGAA) Richard Obeng Okrah, among others.