Wednesday 2 December, 2020

Gov't working to expedite payment of relief grants

With measures in place to expedite the payment of relief grants, 50 percent of people who qualify for the Salary Relief Grant should expect payment within seven working days.

Acting Leader of Government Business Clarence Rambharat made the revelation in response to an Opposition query during Monday’s sitting of the Senate.

Rambharat detailed some of the mechanisms put in place to expedite the delivery of the Salary Relief Grant, Rental Assistance Grant and the food support benefit.

He revealed that a private company was recruited to process the applications and provide data entry services.

Rambharat noted that there were some initial challenges in downloading the applications, which have since been rectified.

The Ministry of Social Development and Family Services has done additional processing and data entry of applications received through its regional offices.

Staff from other Ministries have also been brought on to assist in the processing of these applications.

Further, Rambharat revealed that private sector entities are also involved, providing support through printing services.

A number of technical fixes have also been applied to speed up these payments.

Rambharat said: “The process has been mapped and the IT systems streamlined to automate the relevant processes to expedite delivery.”

Project managers have also been engaged to oversee the various stages of the project to ensure weekly targets for delivery of the grants are met.

In Tobago, staff at one Ministry was specifically assigned to process online applications. Arrangements have been made for hardcopies to be dropped off at the head office of the Division of Health, Wellness and Family Development over weekends to allow for “speedy processing”.

Meanwhile, for the Rental Assistance Grant, Rambharat said only valid applications are being entertained and payments disbursed accordingly to ensure accountability and proper use of State funds.

He added that the verification process whereby rental assistance officers make site visits to confirm information on application forms, as well as field exercises by Ministry officials and ODPM staff provide an additional layer of accountability.

A total of 10,000 families are expected to receive the Rental Assistance Grant.

Rambharat noted that the food support grant has been provided to 25,000 existing beneficiaries who received additional funding, 50,000 people whose jobs and incomes have been affected by COVID-19, and 20,000 households with students who regularly accessed the school feeding programme.

Salary Relief Grants have been paid to 47,000 people, while income support was increased to 42,000 citizens on public assistance and disability grants.

He noted that 3,000 senior citizens who have not yet received their pensions have received $1,300 in food support. Food support of $1,000 has also been provided to 500 people who have not yet received their disability grants.  

Hampers were provided to 1,400 families during the stay-at-home measures, while 30,000 families have received food vouchers.

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