President John Dramani Mahama, has reiterated the determination of the government to champion the needs of the vulnerable in the society.
“As a government, the plight of the poor, the needy and the underprivileged are paramount to our democratic agenda and we will continue to champion that to the fullest to alleviate the plight of such persons” he said.
The President said these in Accra yesterday in a speech read on his behalf by the Minister of State at the Presidency in charge of Public Private Partnership, Dr. Rashid Pelpuo, at the launch of the National Social Protection Policy.
The Policy, the first of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa, seeks to promote the well being of Ghanaians through an integrated platform through the provision of social and financial assistance for social services.
The President said the policy was an integral part of social protection initiative to address the vulnerability of the society saying, government was also putting in place a strong legal framework to protect the vulnerable in the society.
“The launch of the national policy, underscores our commitment to building a vision to create an enabling environment and help bridge the gap between the underprivileged and the rich and those in the middle income bracket.
“There is the need to promote an agenda of equitable distribution and as social democratic government; we are committed to poverty alleviation where we are putting people at the centre of our policy programmes”.
The Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Nana Oye Lithur, said the policy would deliver a well coordinated inter-sectoral social protection system which would enable people live in dignity through income support, livelihood empowerment and improve access to basic services.
Government, she said, had made significant strides in the implementation of social protection initiatives which had produced remarkable results.
She mentioned for instance, the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty, (LEAP) a cash transfer programme that targets the extremely poor and vulnerable households.
“From a total of 1,645 beneficiary households in 21 districts in 2008, we have increased to 146,074 in 185 districts as of June this year”, saying it hoped to expand to 200,000 households by close of the year and to 250,000 by early next year.
In addition, the minister said, 52,082 persons with disability and 751 inmates at the various witch camps have also benefitted from the programme.
Nana Oye said 11,800 elderly women and men who were 65 years and above were registered by the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) in Greater Accra, Ashanti, Volta, Eastern, Northern, Upper East and West regions.
Again, 11,249 inmates at the Kumasi, Nsawam, Tamale, Ankaful, Koforidua, Navrongo and Wa prisons were also registered by the NHIA while 2,881 and 625 victims respectively of the June 3, disaster in Accra and Ashaiman were also registered by NHIA.
“As a government, we are happy to be fulfilling our manifesto pledge of harmonising existing social safety net initiatives into one agency to ensure efficiency and coordination”, noting, “it had seen great achievements in the lives of our beneficiaries”.
The European Union Ambassador and Head of delegation to Ghana, Mr. William Hanna commended government for the bold initiative to improve the lives of the vulnerable and pledged the EU’s determination to assist government in its quest to improving the lives of the people.
There were solidarity messages from the Country Director of the World Bank, Ghana, Mr. Henry Kerali, the Country Representative of the United Nations Children’s Fund, Ms. Susan Ngongi, the Country Director of the Department for International Development, Ms. Jim McAlpine, the Head of the Local Government Service Secretariat, Dr Catlistus Mahama and the Executive Director of Help Age, Ghana, Mr. Ebenezer Adjetey-Sorsey.
By Francis Asamoah Tuffour & Adwoa .O. Adu