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…Secretariat Overspends More Than Ghc15Million,
Beneficiaries Not Reassessed After 14 Years

A government’s social protection initiative to provide cash grants to extremely poor families Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty(LEAP) is headed to the ditch if remedial steps are not taken to salvage the situation.

An Auditor-General Performance Audit Report on the Management of LEAP for half year 2023, has revealed that fourteen years (now 16years) into the piloting of the initiative, no reassessment has been done to determine the eligibility of the breastfeeding mothers, orphaned, and widows to see whether they still qualify for the programme or not.

“LEAP Management Secretariat (LMS) did not adhere to fund utilisation guidelines, thus expending more fund on running the programme than allowed, resulting in excess spending of Ghc15,369,309.97, risking the sustainability of the programme.”

As if that was not all, MOGSP did not keep appropriate record on funds expended, the A-G disclosed.

Read below excerpts of the A-G’s report and the recommendations that followed:
I have the honour, in accordance with Article 187(2) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana, Sections 13(e) and 16 of the Audit Service Act, 2000 (Act 584) to present to you a performance audit report on the Management of Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) program.

  1. The LEAP program is a social protection initiative implemented by the Government of Ghana to provide cash grants to extremely poor and vulnerable households to alleviate economic and social distress.
  2. Piloted in 2008 and in its 15th year, the program targets vulnerable groups such as orphaned and vulnerable children, breastfeeding mothers, old people and people with severe disabilities by providing bi-monthly cash payments to eligible households in various districts across the country.
  3. As at the end of December 2020, a total of 335,015 extremely poor households across 259 districts were enrolled in the LEAP Programme register.
  4. To ensure that the program is sustained, it is designed to be reassessed every four years to justify if a beneficiary should still be on the program. As at 2022 and fourteen (14) years after LEAP’s existence, beneficiaries have not been reassessed to determine whether they still fall within the eligible criteria to stay on the programme or be removed.
  5. In view of these, and in line with Sections 13e and 19 of the Audit Service Act 2000, Act 584, a Performance Audit was commissioned on the management of LEAP to ascertain whether the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MOGCSP) ensured that LEAP Management Secretariat paid cash grants to only eligible beneficiaries and ensured other expenditures aside cash grants were kept within the required limit.
  6. We carried out the audit from February to October 2022 at LEAP Management Secretariat and five districts of three regions covering the period from 2017 to 2022.
  7. We found that LMS paid cash grants to caregivers of deceased beneficiaries in one-member households, resulting in payments to 44 deceased beneficiaries amounting to GH¢84,480.00.
  8. We also noted that LMS did not conduct reassessments of LEAP beneficiaries as required. Despite identifying positive impacts of the programme, LMS failed to graduate or exit beneficiaries even when their socioeconomic status had improved.
    This led to payments of GH¢396,620.00 to beneficiaries who no longer qualify to be on the programme.
  9. LEAP Management Secretariat (LMS) did not adhere to fund utilisation guidelines, thus expending more funds on running the programme than allowed resulting in excess spending of GH¢15,369,309.97 risking the sustainability of the programme. Also, MOGCSP did not keep appropriate records on funds expended.
  10. We have made recommendations to LMS, the details of which are in this report, to bring about improvement in their activities.
  11. We also recommended to MOGCSP to improve its records-keeping regime to enhance accountability.
    Yours faithfully,

The way forward

  1. We recommended the following to enhance the management of LEAP:
    a. LMS should improve monitoring by DSWOs and CFPs and update the register before payments,
    b. LMS should review the decision to rely solely on GNHR data and conduct a reassessment to graduate and exit ineligible beneficiaries,
    c. LMS should adhere to the LEAP Fund utilisation guidelines during programme implementation and
    d. All the accountants on the LEAP programme maintain records and report on quarterly basis to the Chief Director on all financial information related to cash grants and administrative cost relevant to the LEAP programme.

Source: The Campaigner

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