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Government to increase Public Assistance

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Persons on the Government’s Public Assistance Programme will from January be getting an additional EC$25 on their current collections, a figure that will carry up the Government’s monthly expenditure by EC$137,500.{{more}}

But according to Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, the Government can afford this increase, which amounts to some $1, 650,000 per year.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, the PM said that there are about 5,500 persons on welfare here, with persons under the age of 65 receiving EC$200 and those over 65 getting EC$220 and in his opinion the Government can manage the increase.

“Most of the people who get this money are old people and some young people who go school”, said Gonsalves who revealed that after the teenagers finish school, they no longer get the money unless in instances where the persons charged with dishing out the funds may have slipped up and not taken the person’s name from the list. He said that this is, however, rectified in about a month in most instances.

He said that it is important that the Government take care of the less advantaged and the elderly and noted that here, we have 13,811 persons over 60 years old, double what it was in 1970. He noted also that this is the fastest growing segment of the population, as people are living longer and persons are having less children.

The Minister of Finance stressed that these figures have implications for health, security and the safety net, while the PM also opined that he is the only leader in this country who is talking about the elderly.

“Everybody scrambling for the youth vote; they are very important, but I am very mindful of the old people, especially the elderly poor”, stated the PM while asking, “If I don’t look out for them who going to look out for them?”

He said that while there are a number of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) that help at times, the NGOs usually don’t have the resources or support personnel to deal with the elderly on a regular basis.

The 5,500 persons (more or less) who receive public assistance are outside the National Insurance Services (NIS).

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