by Linda Straker
- Needy assistance programme to be suspended for May is the one under the Office of Prime Minister
- The government presently has 4 safety net programmes
Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell has explained that the needy assistance programme to be suspended for May is the one under the Office of Prime Minister (OPM) and not the Ministry of Social Development’s Support for Education Empowerment and Development Programme.
“The suspension is for the programme under my ministry which assists with materials for housing and other needs. There are people abusing the programme, and it must be reviewed so that those who are benefitting are the vulnerable who need help,” he said.
Dr Mitchell’s explanation came after Head of State, Governor General Dame Cecile La Grenade announced in last Friday’s Throne Speech at the opening of the 10th Parliament, that there are weaknesses in the administration of some safety net programmes.
“My government has been apprised that some who do not merit certain benefits, have been able to access them because of weaknesses in the administration of those programmes, or because they provide false information that the checks and balances have not been able to flag,” she said.
Informing the joint sitting of the new parliamentarians, Dame Cecile said that government recognises and accepts responsibility for the weaknesses and abuses and it will make every effort to ensure that all social programmes service the needs of those they are intended to serve.
“For that reason, my government has temporarily suspended the needy assistance, special projects and other such programmes for one month to allow for review and revamping, so as to close loopholes and better manage the services to our vulnerable, while also protecting the integrity and use of the people’s resources,” she said. while providing declaring to achieving Government’s goal of Securing the welfare of the people – one of the four main focus for the first session of the 10th Parliament.
Despite the suspension, the Governor General gave the assurance that government will continue to invest in strengthening social safety nets to protect the poor and vulnerable groups such as children, the elderly and the disabled.
The government presently has 4 safety net programmes – support for Education, Empowerment and Development which falls under the Ministry of Social Development and is funded by the World Bank; the House Repair and Needy Assistance programme, the Uniform and Transportation Assistance Programme and the Special Projects Programme which falls under the Office of the Prime Minister.