Friday 30 October, 2020

Imbert must 'do better' on Salary Relief Grants, Kamla says

Photo: Opposition leader Kamla Persad Bissessar. Credit: Office of the President of Trinidad and Tobago.

Photo: Opposition leader Kamla Persad Bissessar. Credit: Office of the President of Trinidad and Tobago.

Opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar has called on Finance Minister Colm Imbert to do better to ensure the timely payment of Salary Relief Grants.

The call followed Minister Imbert’s admission at Thursday’s Post Cabinet Media Briefing that some applications "have fallen through the cracks and are not being treated appropriately".

He indicated that the Ministry will be working to ensure that these grants are paid out to "genuine cases".

Persad-Bissessar took the Finance Minister to task for the delay, adding that it demonstrated the ineptitude of the Government.

She said: “This is unbecoming of a Minister who has served this country in the same portfolio for the last five years and reflects the callous, inept and incompetent nature of this government at a time when our citizens are in dire need of relief.”

She said it was shameful that there was a backlog of grants to be paid when many citizens are in need of assistance during this time.

“It is shameful that for months this Rowley led government presented a narrative that all was well with those in need of grants and social assistance during these uncertain times.

Today (Thursday), given the admission by the Minister of Finance and the hundreds of complaints by citizens who have legitimately applied for these grants yet have not received them we can see this is the furthest from the truth.”

The Opposition leader lamented that families are suffering while they await the disbursement of grants.

“Regardless of the number of applications that may have "fallen through the cracks", one family waiting for help is one family too many. One family waiting means that children may be going without food, the elderly without proper care and the sick without medicine given the critical nature of this grant.”

Persad-Bissessar urged the Minister to “do better” and called for urgency in treating with the processing of these grants.

“The election is over, the time for lip service, promises and political gimmicks must come to an end. It is time to help save families who are crying out for help.

I am calling on the Minister of Finance to do all in his power to immediately rectify all of these issues as the extended time taken for processing is causing additional setbacks for many,” she said.

Government has so far made payments to over 74,000 people to the tune of $112 million.

More than 3,000 people were found to have tried double dipping into the Salary Relief Grant, and the Income Support Grant, which is paid through the Social Development and Family Services Ministry.

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