The African Centre of Excellence for Inequality Research (ACEIR) and OXFAM have advised political parties to suspend new social intervention policies in their manifestoes until policies, such as the Free Senior High School (FSHS), Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP), and School Feeding Programme (SFP), among others, become financially sustainable.
That, they said, would ensure that challenges affecting the successful implementation of these interventions are addressed thoroughly for the beneficiaries.
Speaking at a launch of research on Fiscal Interventions and Welfare in Ghana at the 11th Pan African Conference held on Monday in Accra, a lead research consultant for ACEIR, Dr Kwadwo Danso-Mensah, said political parties need to work together to ensure these interventions were executed to the benefits of Ghanaians in the face of dire economic challenges.
Dr Danso-Mensah said Ghana had experienced a relatively high and steady economic growth of over 6 per cent on average from 2005 to 2017, however, the benefits from this high growth had not been equitably distributed, hence, the need to fully scale up these social interventions to benefit the citizenry.
“Interestingly, a comparison between a concentration index of negative 0.55 for LEAP as reported in this study, and the negative 0.29 obtained by Younger et al. (2017) indicates that the incidence of LEAP on the poor has deepened recently, while a similar comparison for school feeding programme shows virtually no improvement.
However, an earlier study (Joseph and Wodon, 2012) on school feeding found a concentration coefficient of 0.126, compared to the negative 0.42 reported for this study,” he said.
He said public expenditure on education is progressive at the pre-school, primary school and Junior High School levels, while expenditure on Senior High school is relatively less progressive.
Dr Danso-Mensah, however, said tertiary education was concentrated far more among the rich than the poor.
“Our results on the progressiveness of education at the lower levels can be attributed to the high patronage of private basic schools by richer households, probably due to relatively low investment and poor-quality service delivery in the public schools, leaving the benefits of public education expenditure to be concentrated among the poor,” he said.
He said the Free-SHS policy was less progressive, compared to when there was no Free SHS, stressing that, this was due to the universal nature of the policy, where no form of targeting is considered, coupled with the fact that richer households may have higher access to secondary education than the poor at the time the policy started.
Dr Danso-Mensah explained that this result, however, comes with a strong caveat that the analysis is static and does not incorporate behavioural responses, which may reflect in increased access or enrolment rates for the poor.
“We recommend the continuous expansion of these social protection policies to cover more beneficiaries.
Governments should continue with subsidies or expenditure on basic education while ensuring high-quality service provision at all levels” he said.