Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The L.E.A.P. Lifeline

The Editorial team seems to be in favour of the LEAP Programme, as they are concerned about the thousands of "extremely poor" Ghanaians out there. They are also concerned about public criticism of the programme that it is politically motivated and biased. Below is their editorial comment:

The L.E.A.P. Lifeline

The Ghanaian Times, Tuesday, February 5, 2008. Page 4 (Editorial)

Not even the most fanatical member of supporter of the ruling NEW Patriotic Party would say that there is no poverty in the country, or that all is well with every Ghanaian.

This is why the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) programme is so important an initiative. We think that all should join in the discussion, without political bias, so that is can become a true lifeline for all who need it.

As the Ministry of Manpower, Youth and Employment has explained, under the programme, extremely poor households will be given between GH¢8 and GH¢15 a month, and the first phase is to benefit some 15,000 households. Eventually, some 16,000 households in the “extremely poor” bracket will benefit.

The latest Ghana Living Standards survey defines “extremely poor” as persons earning less than 60US cents a month, the Minister, Nana Akomea explained at a news conference last week.

There can be no dispute that this is a necessary intervention, despite the country’s advances and the economic successes that the international community acknowledges.

We recall that in January 2004, we had cause to point out in this column that the nation should pay attention to the needs of its poor. We noted that in spite of the many advances and many positive indicators, there are still a number of areas of concern, an din our view one of the most pressing is that of the large segments of population who have veritably fallen through the cracks.

For in spite of the best efforts of government, there are today, undeniably many people, especially in the rural areas, who are living in terrible conditions of poverty. (Those who have fallen through the cracks are) people who barely manage a meal a day; people who are too poor to enrol their children in school because they cannot afford even the very minimal parental support requirement…. (people) who die preventable deaths because they simply have no means to pay any medical bill of any sort.

Perhaps it is because it sounds too good to be true that LEAP has been received with scepticism in some quarters. And as for the criticism that the initiative is a ploy to win votes in an elections year, we side with Mr. Akomea’s view that this is “an unworthy objection.” As he noted, that line of argument would mean that every development plan should be put on hold in an election year for fear that others might see it as a giving advantage to one party.

In any case, for those in need of this lifeline, we have a strong suspicion that they will no mind what kind of label critics give it as long as they become beneficiaries.

On the part of the Ghanaian Times, we hope to see the LEAP being implemented in the near future. We also hope that everything will be done to ensure fairness; that the system used will be efficient enough to ensure that all those who have fallen through the cracks will become LEAP beneficiaries.

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