Thursday, February 21, 2008

‘LEAP is not for political votes’

‘LEAP is not for political votes’

The Ghanaian Times, Thursday, February 21, 2008. Page 12 (Political News)

Kingsley Asare

The government’s Spokesperson on Social Services, Kofi Amponsah-Bediako, has dismissed media reports that the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) is a political gimmick meant to buy votes for NPP during the 2008 elections.

“If some people think we are in an election year and so government is using this programme to buy votes, then no development programmes such as road expansion, electricity and water projects should be implemented,” he argued.

In an interview with the Times on negative comments about the LEAP, he said that the programme formed part of the National Social Protection Strategy (NSPS) and was therefore not intended to buy votes. “The NSPS seeks to provide support for the socially disoriented citizens,” he said.

The LEAP, Mr. Amponsah-Bediako said, was aimed at assisting the extremely poor people and the vulnerable in the society. Under the programme, the beneficiaries, including orphans, the aged above 65 years and people with severe disabilities would be given between GH¢8 and to GH¢15 for their upkeep, the spokesperson said.

Mr. Amponsah-Bediako explained that some of the socially disoriented citizens do not have productive capacities and cannot stand on their own. In view of this, he said such people ought to be assisted for them to have a feel that society has not neglected them.

“For those who say the amount to be disbursed is inadequate, it is important for them to note that the monthly stipend is not meant to turn the extremely poor into rich citizens overnight,” he stated. Mr. Amponsah-Bediako explained that in case of the extremely poor, what to eat is even a major problem and so teaching him or her to fish becomes practically impossible. “Such people ought to be assisted financially to a certainly level before they can be helped to learn how to fish,” he stated.

He intimated that similar programmed had been implemented else where in the world to alleviate the plight of the poor so Ghana is not an exception. He added that the LEAP programme will offer skills training to the beneficiaries and provide them with micro-finance credits to set up their own businesses.

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