New poor relief applications on hold as revision takes place
ORANDO BREWSTER, Minister of National Mobilization
January 24, 2023

New poor relief applications on hold as revision takes place

Cabinet took a decision last year to put a temporary hold on reviewing new applications for poor relief assistance, Minister of National Mobilization, Orando Brewster said last Wednesday, January 11.

The minister made the disclosure during his contribution to debate on the 2023 Budget in Parliament.

Brewster said in 2022, cabinet decided to put a temporary hold on all Board approval for poor relief from December 8, 2022 to February 24, 2023.

The minister explained that this is being done “in order to revamp and revise our poor relief aspect of public assistance.”

He gave the assurance that new poor relief applicants can still receive assistance through the Ministry of National Mobilization.

“In doing so, we are not shutting the door…and saying if you come and have a genuine need…we are not going to help you.

“… what we did is that in the interim, we will do emergency grants, and have them on a temporary grant, until we have done our work in the ministry.”

Minister Brewster expressed hope that by the end of February persons who are now on interim support, will be placed to receive full poor relief.

“We have looked at the list of recipients who are placed on poor relief, and there are still some short comings, and we have to tackle that issue.”

To correct any errors on the list, the ministry will be engaged in household assessments during this period of the temporary hold.

Simultaneously, the Ministry of National Mobilization is also moving ahead to modernize the services it provides to vulnerable and less fortunate Vincentians, Brewster said.

As part of this modernization, a total of 368 of its poor relief recipients will be part of a pilot project to receive their social assistance through Bank of SVG cards.

Brewster also thanked the bank of St Vincent and the Grenadines (BOSVG) for playing a part in the modernization of the social services in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG).

The introduction of the card system for poor relief payment, will see the ministry’s budget for this form of assistance being drastically reduced.

Brewster also said in the past, the ministry spent over $100,000 in order to make cash payments at various locations; that figure has now fallen to about $16,000 because of its transition to card payments.

“If that is not development, I don’t think I know what is.”

Brewster said as a result of the drastic reduction in operational cost, his ministry now has more money, “ to go to the poor the vulnerable and the marginalized.”

He projected that by the year, 2025, over 10,000 cards will be in circulation in SVG.

Apart from poor relief, recipients of other forms of public assistance, and social service will also soon be able to receive their assistance using ATM cards.

“We know your situation, we have it on file, we will make the payment through the card,” the minister assured.

This will effectively reduce the length of time clients would usually have to spend at the Ministry of National Mobilization waiting for assistance.

“The dignity of our people is at play in the whole aspect of the modernization of our social services,” Brewster noted.

Describing the Ministry of National Mobilization as “the heart and soul of this country,”, Minister Brewster, said, it is also about “helping, caring and showing genuine love.”