Parliament has been urged to speed up work on the passage of the Social Protection Bill into law to give strong legal backing to the implementation of social protection policies and interventions in the country.
The bill when finally passed will sustain financing for the various protection policies and cure some of the bottlenecks in the smooth delivery of social protection services such as delays in disbursement of funds to beneficiaries.
The Executive Director of Penblusbyte, a non-governmental organisation, Jerry Sam, who made the call, observed that though there were a number of social protection programmes in the country, the lack of legal backing was hampering the effective resources mobilisation and implementation of the interventions.
“Currently, we have a number of interventions and policies such as the School Feeding Programme, National Health Insurance Scheme, Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty programme, among others, but there are duplications in their implementation so the law will help reduce the duplication of efforts through proper coordination among the implementation agencies while strengthening accountability measures in the mobilisation and disbursement of funds to eliminate corruption,” he noted.
Mr Sam made the call at a social protection and accountability forum organised in Tamale which brought together various stakeholders to deliberate on ways to strengthen social protection and ensure accountability in the country.
Organised by the Penblusbyte, in collaboration with SEND Ghana and Songtaba, with funding support from Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), the forum was on the theme “Institutionalising Social Accountability in Local Governance; the successes, gaps and way forward”.
Currently, the country has no law on social protection, it was only the bill that was pending before Parliament for approval.
The bill, when finally passed into law, will guarantee the rights of all Ghanaians, especially the venerable and the very poor in the society to social protection.
Social protection fund
Mr Sam advocated the establishment of a Social Protection Fund modelled after the Ghana COVID-19 fund, with the aim of addressing the persistent challenge of insufficient funding for various social protection policies.
He added that “when we involve the private sector in contributing to this fund, we can ensure the financial sustainability of diverse social protection programmes by mitigating the frequent delays and irregular disbursement of payments”.
For his part, the Northern Regional Programmes Manager of SEND GHANA, Mohammed Mumuni, said “as a country we have a lot of social protection policies but we don’t have any law governing them so if the government decides not to pay LEAP beneficiaries you can’t take it to court”.
He admonished the public to join hands with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in demanding transparency and accountability in the implementation of social protection policies to curb corruption.
A Senior Manager at the Northern Regional office of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), Ibrahim Tia, said the authority was undergoing robust digitisation to crack down on illegal charges by some service providers to make it more efficient.
He also urged the public to report service providers and individuals engaged in fraudulent acts to any of the NHIA offices for the necessary action.