A social policy analyst at the Centre for Social Policy Studies (CSPS) of the University of Ghana, Legon, Dr William Ahiadzie, has refuted claims that the government's cash transfer policy for the extremely poor is a handout and a ploy for vote buying in the upcoming December elections.
He said the policy, which would involve very poor households getting a minimum of about GH¢8.00 every two months, was a necessary and logical follow-up in the pursuit of macro-economic stability in the country.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic in Accra, Dr Ahiadzie said the cash transfer was just a component of the government's broader National Social Protection Strategy (NSPS) policy and a follow up to the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS).
The NSPS is the framework for governments and civil society organisations to support the extremely poor in fulfilment of their basic human rights enshrined in international and national legislative instruments, such as the right to education, health, economic and social well-being.
The framework has several components, including the cash transfer policy to extremely poor households, Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) and other social protection initiatives that seek to cushion the most vulnerable against certain adverse effects of macro-economic policy formulation and implementation.
Explaining the rationale for the policy, Dr Ahiadzie said all well intentioned policies for economic development came with some social costs to certain groups of people.
He said the policy was one of the several components of the NSPS that aimed at getting the extremely poor to productively participate in economic activities and improve on their livelihoods.
He said the policy had been thought of as far back as 2004, after an impact assessment of the GPRS that showed that the country's macro-economic stability efforts had some good outcomes, as well as some negative impact on some groups in the society.
These included orphans, women, persons living with disability, some unemployed and the aged and they had been targeted to benefit under the cash transfer policy.
He said the programme would be implemented over a five-year period with an estimated GH¢8 million for about 15,000 initial beneficiaries in the first year, while the total estimated cost of the policy for the five-year period was GH¢26.1 million.
The cash transfer, Dr Ahiadzie added, was directed at poor households and not individuals, saying that individuals of a targeted household would receive GH¢8.
However, GH¢2 would be added to the GH¢8 for any additional person in the targeted household, he said.
Moreover, those targeted would also be linked up to other complementary programmes such as micro-finance schemes, nutrition and food schemes and other schemes to enhance their productive capacities, such as the acquisition of seeds and tools, particularly for farmers.
Dr Ahiadzie said a rigorous targeting, verification and monitoring process, based on social scientific software, would minimise the opportunity of manipulation and the use of the scheme as a political vote-buying mechanism.
He said like all other schemes, human intervention and influence could not be discounted. However, the initiators had thought about them and had laid down processes and systems to minimise or completely prevent them.
DAILY GRAPHIC, THURSDAY, JANUARY 31, 2008