A former Gender, Children and Social Protection Minister, Nana Oye Lithur has called for a special support programme for all unemployed persons in the country to ease the impact of the lockdown due to COVID-19 on them.
She argued that as a result of the pandemic in the country, many people have lost their jobs, thus, government should provide income support in the form of unemployment benefits.
Social protection, she added, is multifactorial and multidimensional therefore, the government has to properly target its interventions based on the needs of people.
Nana Oye Lithur explained that the successful roll-out of such a scheme will ensure that people who need health care because of their pre-existing conditions, people who are abused or suffer any mishap are adequately catered for.
“We need to determine who needs what” she stated, adding that government “needs to be more innovative. At the end of the day, the question should be how do we reduce vulnerabilities. That is what social protection is all about…Income support looking at unemployment benefits. I haven’t heard anything about unemployment benefits and that is something that we need to look at.”
“Now we have an unusual situation, now we have an emergency. We have more people now who are unemployed, who are not able to go to work for the next two or three weeks, one month, we don’t know and they need to get some form of income support in terms of unemployed benefits,” the former Gender and Social Protection Minister advocated.
Referring to the June 3 disaster during her time in office under the Mahama administration, Nana Oye Lithur said affected persons who lost their businesses and modes of livelihood were supported with GHC100 a month.
The intervention which came under an emergency livelihood empowerment programme, she insisted, helped them weather the storm.
Despite the absorption of water bills and targeted relief in electricity bills, she is calling on the Akufo-Addo government to rely on the LEAP initiative and expand it as a temporal measure to reduce the impact on unemployed persons.
“There is a need to target. I do not see any targeting mechanism that has been put in place by government in terms of being able to reach those who really are in need. Now we have LEAP. My recommendation is that emergency LEAP should be instituted. During the time when we were in power, we had the June 3 disaster, we had to provide emergency LEAP to over 10, 000 people in various districts in Ghana. So they were actually given cash by government, that may be better,” Nana Oye Lithur recounted.
The lockdown imposed by the government is in its 3rd week after the initial 2-week restrictions of movement were extended by a week.
The government within the period is embarking on enhanced surveillance and testing. So far, over 44, 000 tests have been conducted and about 1% have come out positive for the virus.
Ghana’s confirmed COVID-19 cases stand at 641 while 8 deaths have been recorded.
Two are in critical condition, 17 fully recovered while the rest are responding to treatment.