Barbadian political analyst Peter Wickham says the new cash transfer programme being implemented by the Antigua and Barbuda Red Cross for Barbudans could be open for abuse.
The cash grant is a swipe card system preloaded (with funds) to ensure displaced, qualified Barbudans are able to acquire food supplies, toiletries and clothing while on Antigua.
He said these programmes are “notorious for being abused” as some individuals may take the voucher and use it for purposes it was not intended. The political analyst said some people may also feel inclined to sell the cards at a discounted rate to other people.
“The mode of distribution and the idea of a swipe card system is, under the circumstance, the best that they can do. There is no perfect method. I mean you don’t want to be giving out money in cash, but at the same time it is difficult to ensure that people would get the stuff that they need, bearing in mind that there is a diversity because my need may include things that yours may not …to be able to get that stuff you need to have access to cash and the swipe card is the best that they can do,” added Wickham.
Wickham said while there is not a whole lot that can be done to prevent abuse of the card, he suggested implementing monetary penalties of jail time for persons found guilty of abusing the system.
Meanwhile, President of the Antigua and Barbuda Red Cross Michael Joseph agreed that there is not much that can be done to stop abuse of the initiative.
He said one can only hope that people would use the card for its intended purpose, adding that the Red Cross cannot instruct businesses not to sell certain items.
Qualifying Barbudans will receive the cards, but will be able to get actual cash from the participating bank through the ATM. Joseph said persons will not be charged for using the cards through the automated teller machines because the bank has waived those fees.
Joseph noted that the initiative will run over a three-month period , but will be reviewed at the end of this period to see whether there is a need to extend it.
Barbudans will receive from $600 up to $1,000 (on the cards) for a family upwards of three on a monthly basis to purchase their necessities.