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Social protection is a right, not a favour – STAR-Ghana

The STAR-Ghana Foundation, a centre for active citizenship and philanthropy, has challenged citizens, especially beneficiaries of social protection programmes, to exact accountability from the government if they feel aggrieved.

Dr Ernestina Tetteh, the Project Manager of the Foundation, noted that social protection was a right citizens must enjoy and not a favour from the government.

‘When the politicians come to you, don’t be deceived by the petty gifts they give to you, especially in the campaign season,’ she said.

‘Don’t approach it like you are seeking favour from them; respectfully, but firmly, make demands when you feel it is necessary because you deserve it.’

Dr Tetteh was addressing a Town Hall meeting in Cape Coast to officially commence a nationwide manifesto influencing initiative and solicit concerns of citizens to be addressed by the political parties in their Election 2024 Manifesto.

The consultative exercise is a forum to share challenges in the areas of health, education and social prote
ction to influence the direction of political party manifestos.

Three policy briefs on health, education and social protection would be produced based on the outputs and presented to the political parties and their presidential candidates.

Successive governments have, over the years, introduced various social protection interventions including the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP), school feeding, and free maternal care for the underprivileged.

Dr Tetteh said her observations showed that most of the interventions were struggling owing to issues such as insufficient budgetary allocations and delays in releasing those monies and blamed weak coordination among the various public institutions responsible for executing these initiatives.

While the NHIS, for instance, was almost always in arrears, the LEAP had a funding gap of about GHC400 million.

The Project Manager expressed worry over the poor quality of food served in some basic schools under the School
Feeding Programme due to delays in payment.

She urged the authorities to increase budgetary allocations for social protection programmes and endeavour to release them promptly to give relief to the beneficiaries.

Dr Tetteh advocated the provision of complementary social protection for the vulnerable, marginalised and excluded groups.

There was also the need to expand social protection for informal sector workers to prevent vulnerabilities, she said and called for strong complaint and accountability mechanisms to ensure effective implementation of such policies.

The vulnerability, typically attributed to rural communities, was increasingly becoming an urban phenomenon largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which ravaged many urban communities.

She, therefore, called for special attention for peri-urban dwellers in the formulation and implementation of social protection programmes to mitigate their struggles.

Source: Ghana News Agency