Categorized | National News

No More Food Stamps – Social Services Issues Prepaid Visa Cards

For the first time on Friday, Bahamians depending on assistance from social services were able to use reloadable prepaid visa cards in the place of government food stamps, making it one of the most revolutionary social programmes in modern history.

With some 9,000 Bahamians depending on the government for social support, Minister of Social Services Melanie Griffin said the new modernization in the ministry’s system will aid to make the method of distribution easier.

Minister Griffin said she along with other members of her ministry are excited about the new thrust and what it means to the way food assistance in The Bahamas will be delivered.

“It is intended to modernize the entire social assistance delivery machinery and will include what is known as a conditional cash transfer,” she said.

“The conditional cash transfer is used in many countries throughout the world including some of our neighbours in the Caribbean. This means that no longer will social services be doling out assistance without any responsibility on the family to change its behavior in order to give themselves a fighting chance to rise out of poverty.”

Minister Griffin said one of the benefits of this new programme is that it ensures that all those who receive social support qualify for it.

According to the 2013 Household Expenditure Survey, there is a direct correlation between poverty and education.
Minister Griffin said her ministry has partnered with the Ministry of Education to ensure children in households depending on social help are excelling in school.

“The intent is that all families must qualify through a proxemics test and will receive a base amount to their household however, in order to receive the add-on amount they must make sure their children attend school on at least 90 per cent of school days,” she said.

“They must also ensure that where they are failing school they attend remediate classes. There is also a bonus amount given to every child on the program that graduates from secondary school.”

Minster Griffin said the method of handing out food stamps at the end of every month over the years has been a very vigorous and frustrating process for both beneficiaries and ministry workers.

She said this new procedure will help to put an end to exasperating government lines.

“We are happy to report to you that with the introduction of this new payment method we are fast eradicating everyone’s frustrations,” she said.

“We are also making the entire process more user-friendly for clients, staff and vendors. This is what we call progress.”

The reloadable pre-paid visa card can only be used in local food stores that accept visa cards.
Approximately, 2,500 visa cards have already been distributed and more are expected to be handed out later this year.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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