SEND-Ghana urges prioritization of social protection programs

SEND West Africa Chief Executive Officer, CEO Mr. Siapha Kamara

SEND-Ghana, a civil society organization working to improve social protection, has called on the government to prioritize the allocation of adequate resources to support social protection programs to prevent them from collapsing .

The Managing Director (CEO) of SEND-Ghana, Siapha Kamara, said that following the economic challenges currently facing the country, it was important for the government to make tough decisions by shelving some budgeted projects in favor social protection programs such as the school feeding programme, the school capitation grant and the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) programme.

Launching a report on the impact of social intervention programs on beneficiaries in Accra on June 29, Kamara noted that, for example, given the country’s tight fiscal space, he was cautious for the government to channel resources intended for the construction of the national cathedral to invest in social protection to protect vulnerable groups.

“When the government planned to build the cathedral, they did not know about COVID-19; he was unaware of the Russian-Ukrainian war; he did not know that inflation was going to exceed 30%; but now those dynamics are there.

“The government must respond to the voice of conscience and say that the money we have committed to building the National Cathedral must be spent on protecting the gains made in the lives of vulnerable people,” he said. declared.

Mr. Kamara stressed that this was the way to go as it was a moral issue for which the government must take a moral stand by investing in social protection for the vulnerable.

The mirror report

The report, titled “Citizens’ Assessment of Social Protection Delivery in Ghana: Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) Social Protection Mirror Report 2021”, was developed by SEND-Ghana and other CSOs in the social protection such as Ghana Social Accountability Platform, CSO Platform for Social Protection and SDG CSO Platform.

The report assessed the impact of five flagship programs ‚ Capitation Grant, SFP, LEAP, National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and Labor Intensive Public Works (LIPW) on recipients using data from the 10 traditional regions.

Respondents were made up of beneficiaries, community members, students, school authorities, district program officers and GSFP caterers.
Some 1,496 respondents were selected and engaged in focus group discussions.

The study concluded that except for LEAP which was doing well in terms of budget allocation and disbursement, all other social protection programs were on the verge of collapse.

Mr Kamara said the situation could even be worse now because “the data for this report was collected in 2021 and things have deteriorated, so that means now the programs are heading into a coma because inflation at the time of data collection was single digit, but is now in double digits”.

Social protection

Mr. Kamara stressed that the government should not consider sacrificing social protection programs in the midst of this crisis because the beneficiaries are the most vulnerable in society.

“If you choose to sacrifice social protection programs, it means you condemn them and the next generation.

“If this government makes the choice to remove any of them, then it will be stigmatized as a government that has condemned generations,” he said.

Highlights

A researcher at SEND-Ghana, Dr Isaac Nyarko Kwakye, who presented the research findings, said the country was found to spend less than one percent of gross domestic product (GDP) on protection social welfare, which was well below 2.2% of the regional GDP average for sub-Saharan Africa.

“It is suggested that in line with global benchmarks and commitments, the government should aim for a gradual increase in social protection expenditure up to 4.5% of Ghana’s GDP by 2025,” he said.

He said the Mirror Teport had also revealed “huge variations” between approved budget allocations and disbursements, which was evidence that planning and executing the social protection budget was a challenge.

“As a priority, it is important that the Ministry of Finance and the respective sector ministries work to improve the execution of the social protection budget by adopting measures to ensure the timely release of funds or payments to beneficiaries. and people who provide services such as GSFP caterers,” he added.

Joel C. Hicks