Categorized | National News

Social Services Pays Over $8 Million To Food Stores

Social Services Minister Melanie Griffin revealed in the House of Assembly how much is being spent to assist poor Bahamians.

The minister, who was contributed to the 2013/2014 budget debate, revealed that the government has spent $ 8,817, 824.64 on food store payments over the last year.

For permanent food stamps, the government spends $1,476,660 and over $5 million for temporary food coupons.

When it comes to assistance for children with special needs, the government shells out $213,360, $505,080 for foster care and $61,600 for child care assistance.

The government also shells out millions to help the poor with utilities bills.

To assist with Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) bills the government paid the corporation $786,769.69.

It paid the Water and Sewage Corporation $108,339.86 and paid over $1 million for rental assistance.

“There is no doubt that persons who receive assistance are appreciative of what is provided but many bemoan the length of time it can take for their application for assistance to be processed and approved or having to wait on long lines for hours to collect food coupons at the end of the month or not getting much needed uniforms for their children in time for the start of the new year,” Mrs. Griffin said.

“Let me hasten to say that these issues are not caused by the staff of the Department not fulfilling their duties; the reality is that the volume of clients has increased and the processed involved from the time of application to the investigation, approval and disbursement of assistance are labour intensive and have not kept up with the times.”

The minister said that social safety net reform is almost complete.

The programme is meant to strengthen the Department of Social Services and introduce a conditional cash transfer (CCT) that will target households with children, elderly persons, pregnant women and households with poor adults without children.

“This means that once the CCT is implemented, approved applicants will instead of receiving assistance from various programmes, receive a cash transfer to help them meet daily living expenses however, households with children will be required to meet certain conditions intended to improve the health and education of the children so as to help break the cycle of poverty,” Minister Griffin said.

“The health and educational conditions that households with children will have to meet with stipulated conditions will receive the full monthly benefits. It is not the intent to create hardships for persons by reducing benefits but we must appreciate the need to enhance the health and education of our children so that they are not destined for a life of poverty and objectives of the project is to build human capital and modify behaviour to eliminate dependency on welfare.”

Written by Jones Bahamas

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