No citizen in need should be denied public assistance

-Minister Persaud tells Berbice Boards of Guardians

Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Hon. Dr. Vindhya Persaud says no citizen in difficult circumstances should be denied access to any form of public assistance offered by the State.

Minister Persaud made this statement during a meeting with five of the newly-installed Boards of Guardians in East Berbice-Corentyne (Region Six) today. The meeting was held at the Regional Democratic Council office.

A Board member reported that many vulnerable persons within the Region have not been benefiting from the public assistance programme, and that many have been insulted when making inquiries at the local offices. Minister Persaud said this complaint had been brought to her attention in the other regions as well and the matter will be dealt with expeditiously.

“We are dealing with people of all different background and different levels of need and because they are in need, there is no reason why they shouldn’t be treated with dignity. So, we will be looking at that seriously because it is a real problem not in this region but across the country.”

Minister Persaud reminded the Boards that while they have been tasked with reviewing the public assistance applications, they must also reach out to the respective communities and ensure those in dire need are benefiting. 

Additionally, the Board could refer persons who are not eligible for public assistance to the Ministry’s skills training programmes so that they could equip themselves with a skill to become independent.

Dr. Persaud also informed the meeting of the Ministry’s efforts to decentralise its services from Georgetown, and to provide access to critical services in the Region, including pension distribution and other safety net programmes

Meanwhile, Chief Probation and Social Security Officer, Mr. Ricardo Banwarie emphasised the need for confidentiality when dealing with difficult circumstances cases.

“Persons will come and will be asked about their financial needs. The officers will then go out into the fields and investigate those persons…There is a lot of stories you will hear and it is important that you keep it to yourself. These are things you will be exposed to,” he said.    

The Boards of Guardians are mandated to evaluate and determine the legitimacy of the public assistance applications countrywide. The applications are presented to the Poor Law Commission for further review to ensure those ‘most in need’ benefit from the programme.