Improved social protection for citizens –  $16B approved for Ministry

GINA, GUYANA, Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The examination of the 2017 estimates and expenditures for the various Government Ministries resumed today. The sum of $16B was considered and approved in the Committee of Supply for the Ministry of Social Protection.

This sum will enable massive transformation in the Ministry which will lead to improvements in social protection for all Guyanese, said Minister of Social Protection Volda Lawrence.

Minister of Social Protection, Hon. Volda Lawrence

The allocated sum will go towards the following:

  • Policy Development and Administration- $608.3M
  • Social Services-$14.8B
  • Labour Administration- $533M and
  • Child Care and Protection- $615M

Minister Lawrence in response to questions by Opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) on the allocation for the Palms Geriatric Home, said the facility will see great enhancement in 2017.

Minister Lawrence said more medications will be available while major infrastructural works will be undertaken on Blocks A and B, and the kitchen. These include plumbing and electrical works.

Opposition MP, Dr. Vindiya Persaud subsequently sought clarifications on whether there are social workers and persons trained in domestic violence, and whether these persons are deployed to all regions.

Minister Lawrence responded that there are trained social workers and domestic violence officers who are stationed in each Region. She added that they are properly catered for.

Dr. Persaud further questioned the Minister on the reason for the significant increase for the maintenance of buildings to which Minister Lawrence responded that the increase will cater for the massive maintenance works on the Palms Home; plumbing works will be undertaken, the washrooms will be extended and a washroom will be constructed at the administration office. These works will be carried out to the tune of $26M.

Minister Lawrence further explained that works will also be carried out on the Guyana Women’s Leadership Institute (GWLI) and the Mahaica Children’s Hospital to the tune of $2.7M and $9.5M respectively.

Meanwhile, Opposition MP Gillian Burton-Persaud questioned what materials will be purchased with the $7M catered for printable and non-printable materials.

Minister within the Ministry of Social Protection. Hon. Keith Scott

Minister with responsibility for Labour, Keith Scott responded that money will be used to facilitate payment of newspapers, and create posters and banners for national observances among others.

MP Burton-Persaud further questioned the Minister on why a sum of $24M was allocated for the Guyana National Cooperative Credit Union (GNCCU) for the coming year when none was allocated for the last two years.

Minister Scott in response noted that the building is not new, but money is being allocated for the union to play its role of overseeing and helping other unions.

Opposition MP, Juan Edghill then interjected and noted that there was no subsidy to GNCCU in 2015 and 2016 but there is now a $24M allocated. He questioned who are the principals of the organisation, and what are the criteria used to provide funding. He wanted to know whether representation was made for funding and what were the reasons offered that they needed funding now.

The Minister with responsibility for labour said the Ministry is in the process of resuscitating the union as an umbrella body to revitalise cooperatives.

Minister Scott further explained that all 10 regional unions’ cooperatives report to the organisation and MP Burton-Persaud then queried how the disbursement will be done and to whom it will be disbursed.

Minister Scott explained that the $24M will go to the GNCCU and will then be dispersed to the other bodies.

Further, Opposition Chief Whip, Gail Teixeira asked the Minister to relate to the House whether the GNCCU is in compliance with the laws governing cooperative societies in Guyana, especially since  the anti-money laundering laws were amended.

Minister Scott said the GNCCU is compliant. “We have been pushing the development and observation of the anti-money laundering  laws among the cooperatives and they have been urged to come on board soon.”

Under Child Care and Protection, MP Burton-Persaud again took the floor to question the Minister whether there are adequate staff in the various Regions and whether case workers, at any time assigned to a specific region would perform duties in another.

Minister Lawrence then responded in the affirmative, that there is a shortage of case workers, and when case workers are assigned to specific regions they work in their respective regions, they do not work in other regions despite the shortage. She added that in this regard, the Ministry has several vacancies advertised to fill the positions.

In relation to foster care, Minister Lawrence explained that additional funding was allocated to cater for monitoring and evaluation programmes for foster care, and the Ministry is working closely with partners to have regular visits conducted to homes and to ensure that children are treated fairly.

She explained that if a report is made of mistreatment of a child or children, the child is removed from the home and an investigation commences immediately.

By: Ranetta LaFleur