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…153,376 households in 9 regions receive the relief thus far
By Svetlana Marshall
To date, 153,376 households in Regions One-10, with the exception of Region 4 (Demerara-Mahaica), have received the $25,000 COVID-19 relief cash grant, Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Dr Vindhya Persaud disclosed as she sought to justify a request for another $2.5B to fund the relief programme.
A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Members of Parliament Ganesh Mahipaul and Jermaine Figueira, while noting that the Opposition is not against the relief programme, said it was important for the Government to state clearly who are the beneficiaries, in light of complaints that communities dominated by APNU+AFC supporters are being bypassed.
It was while being grilled by Mahipaul in House on Monday, that Minister Persaud released key information on the ongoing relief programme.
According to her, 153,376 households have received their financial grants from the $4.5B approved in the National Assembly last September during the consideration of the National Budget.
The Human Services and Social Security Minister detailed that in Region One, 8,124 household received the COVID-19 relief cash grant while 13,675 households have already benefited in Region Two; in Region Three, 44,097; Region Five, 20, 856; Region Six, 35,009; Region Seven, 7,052; Region 8, 3064; Region 9, 7503; and Region 10, 13,996 households – a total of 153, 376 households.
This number, the Minister noted, translates to $3.834B already disbursed from the initial $4.5B allocated to the Human Services Ministry under the Relief Programme. In response to a string of questions posed by Mahipaul, Minister Persaud said the nine regions identified are almost completed and the focus is now on Region Four.
According to her, the additional $2.5B, which Mahipaul estimates will cater for another 100,000 households, will be disbursed in Region Four.
The Human Services and Social Security Minister, when asked how many households the Government was initially targeting, explained that the Government initiated the programme utilising data from the 2012 census.
Both Mahipaul and Figueira informed the Minister that there have been repeated complaints about certain communities being sidelined due to their political affiliation, but Minister Persaud said she has received no such report.
The minister assured that every attempt is being made to reach each and every household. She noted that those in the nine identified regions, should visit the local or regional offices to uplift their grant, if they were missed during the initial round.
The minister noted that once the first phase has been completed – the ministry will engage in a mop up exercise, however, she clarified that the $2.5B is not intended for the second phase but rather the first with focus on Region 4.
Minister Persaud assured that there is a clear and transparent process established for the issuance of the grant. In cases where there are multiple families in a home, only the principal householder will receive the cash grant in the first instance. The other families in these cases will be required to provide their information on a pink form. After the information is verified, those households will receive their $25,000 cash grant. To date, 16,375 pink slips have been issued.
The $2.5B forms part of a Supplementary Provision of Current and Capital Estimates totaling $17.4B, in which the PPP/C Administration used its one-seat majority in the House, to have approved, approximately three months after the passage of the National Budget for 2020.