Minister of Social Transformation, Human Resource Development and the Blue Economy, the Hon. Dean Jonas has given his government’s assurance that those persons who continue to be affected by the Covid-19 pandemic will receive the necessary assistance.
Minister Jonas was at the time making his contribution to the 2021 budget in the lower house of Parliament on Tuesday morning.
The Minister noted that 2020 was indeed a very challenging one due to the numerous adverse effects of the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic and as a result the Ministry had to make certain necessary adjustments in order to effectively continue to fulfil its mandate to assist the most vulnerable members in society.
“As a result of the pandemic, there have been unfortunate increases in poverty, unemployment and underemployment”, Minister Jonas noted.
In response, the Ministry implemented the “Emergency Food Assistance Programme” in early, 2020 shortly after the onset of the pandemic.
Through this mechanism food packages were distributed and delivered to beneficiaries, specifically elderly persons living alone, persons with disabilities and unemployed persons with children.
Such programme could not be possible without the assistance of a number of organizations. “Cooperation with other Ministries, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs),
Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) and Faith-Based Organizations (FBOs) is also very important in the provision of services for the vulnerable and indigent” Minister Jonas explained.
The Ministry also instituted the Government Voucher Programme in partnership with PDV Caribe, Antigua and Barbuda Limited (PDVCAB). When the contribution of the PDV was exhausted, the Ministry continued the programme. Cabinet authorized the waiver of ABST to the value of 5 million dollars which was used to offset both the goods procured for the food packages and the amount incurred by the use of the vouchers. In the case of the vouchers, beneficiaries receive between $150.00 and $250.00 based on their particular circumstances and these were redeemed in participating supermarkets.
The Minister also commended his staff at the Ministry for putting in the extra hours, all throughout the lockdown to ensure that this programme was successfully implemented.
Meanwhile, Minister Jonas says there are many persons who have been complaining that they are not benefitting from the voucher programme. He noted that with the new registration process, persons will be able to go to a central location, apply for and collect packages and vouchers without any hassle. He also gave the assurance that once eligible, persons will receive benefits regardless to their political affiliation.
The new centre for the programme will be the Local Government Department, located on Cross Street, next to GETCO.
So far for the period May to December, 2020 over 50,664 food packages have been distributed, along with over $1,250,000.00 worth of vouchers.
Advertise with the mоѕt vіѕіtеd nеwѕ ѕіtе іn Antigua!
We offer fully customizable and flexible digital marketing packages. Your content is delivered instantly to thousands of users in Antigua and abroad!
Contact us at [email protected]