Social Protection Services in Region Nine by next week – others to follow

DPI, Guyana, Saturday, August 26, 2017

On Friday, August 25, Indigenous leaders were informed that a move to establish social protection offices in the hinterland is soon to become a reality.

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

Minister within the ministry of Social Protection, Keith Scott along with a team from the ministry were apprised of the issues Toshaos and residents in the hinterland communities encounter, as a result of little or no social protection presence in their respective communities.

“We are expanding our reach into every single region… we are trying to establish in every region social protection units starting next week in Region Nine and then Region Seven. Next Month we will be going back to Region One.” Minister Scott said to those attending the National Toshao Council conference.

Most of the issues raised to the ministerial team focused on access to Old Age Pension and Childcare and Protection Services in hinterland areas. Some Toshaos complained of pensioners not having access to acceptable facilities at post offices and other agents responsible for distributing pensions.

Pensioners in far flung hinterland communities are severely affected by post offices with outdated infrastructure. Elizabeth Romascindo, Toshao of Bunbury Hill, Region One said, “When the rain falls and we go there, the rain wet us, there is no seat in the place and all of us have to bunch up together.”

There were complaints of the lengthy distance travelled to access the services of the nearest post office in hinterland regions. In some communities, it takes as much as a day to reach the location. Minister Scott noted that these matters of concern to senior citizens had been brought to the attention of the ministry.

Elisabeth Romascindo, Toshao, Bunbury Hill, Region One.

The Junior Social Protection Minister added “At our heads meeting, the person who is heading that department… Mr. Tanner. We did discuss the difficulties that Toshaos, as well as pensioners, experience in having their monies paid to them in a timely fashion. We understand also that the post offices are a bit far in your area as well as a few other areas.”

The indigenous leaders recommended that more post offices be constructed in the districts, and those presently standing, undergo infrastructural upgrades to accommodate pensioners

“I can assure that consideration is being given to finding ways and making it easier… we are looking at all the options and within a short time from now I can assure you that as soon as we can get to a proper solution you can see implementation of a new strategy unfolding.” Minister Scott added.

Other Toshaos raised issues relating to child labour and abuse. Addressing those matters, Assistant Chief Labour Occupational Safety and Health Officer, Karen Vansluytman-Corbin said, “the Childcare and Protection Agency within the Ministry of Social Protection, they are working towards establishing offices permanent offices in all the regions. Those offices will be staffed with Probation Officers, Welfare Officers (and) Labour Officers.”

Vansluytman-Corbin added that the issue of children being sexually abused in the hinterland remains a concern for the ministry. “There are times when those children are sexually abused by their very own relatives. There are times too when the very relatives hide it from the public’s knowledge because they do not want anyone to know and so I am now making a passionate plea to you the Toshaos and the community leaders and those of you who are serving as leaders within your community that when these things are happening, expose the perpetrators we will not be able to prosecute them if we do not know that they are committing these acts against our children.”

 

By: Delicia Haynes

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