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Gov’t announces new initiative to financially assist vulnerable families

Social Development Minister Delma Thomas - new programme is significant for persons unemployed due to COVID-19

Single parent homes will be receiving financial assistance during the global COVID-19 pandemic under a new system, which will be given priority by the government in the New Year.

According to Social Development Minister, Delma Thomas, the new programme, which was announced during the 2021 budget presentation in Parliament by Finance Minister Gregory Bowen last week Wednesday is intended to cushion the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Member of Parliament for St. Andrew North-west said the programme is expected to bring hope to vulnerable individuals, whose livelihoods has been negatively impacted.

In an interview with reporters following the Budget presentation at Parliament building, Minister Thomas described the 2021 budget, as one that “brings hope at a time when people are hurting” as they struggle to survive under the damaging effects of the pandemic.

The Social Development Minister noted that the new programme will cater for persons who are unemployment due to COVID-19.

“This is significant for families who are presently unemployed because of the pandemic,” said the Minister who at the time was unable to provide specific data relating to the number of families that will benefit under the programme.

“You would realise there is an increase in (allocations for the Ministry of) Health and also in my Ministry as it relates to Social Development. You would realise an increase in the SEED Programme (as well as) the new programme as it relates to single headed households, male or female (those) losing their jobs due to COVID-19 and are unable to take care of their families,” she said.

The female government minister added that “this new programme will give assistance to these families for (their) period of unemployment.”

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During a recent Cabinet reshuffle, Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell indicated that Minister Thomas was appointed to work along with Health Minister Nicholas Steele with regards to Hospital and Community health services.

In the budget, the Ministry of Health and Social Security combined have been allocated a total of EC$94.9M, which represents 7.7% of the total expenditure of the EC$2 billion budget.

Health Minister Steele, who also spoke with reporters, expressed the view that the budget is fitted to cushion support towards the effect of the pandemic with monies set aside to improve the administration of health care services.

He said: “The Budget recognises the importance of health and health care (and) has put the appropriate funding in to the necessary areas in healthcare…to allow us to address the threat of COVID, but still recognises that it is not the only threat or challenge of healthcare and has (also) given us appropriate funding for other areas allowing us to advance our initiative on National Health Insurance, Dialysis (and) Imaging.”

There has been varying views expressed by Grenadians as it relates to the various allocation for the health ministry, which received the fifth largest portion in the 2021 budget when compared to the Ministry of Infrastructure Development Transport and Implementation which got EC$133.7M, the largest allocation representing 10.8% of total expenditure.

The Ministry of Education, Human Resource Development, Religious Affairs, and Information received the second largest slice of the budget – 124M (10.1% of total expenditure), followed by the Ministry of Finance, Economic and Physical Development, Public Utilities and Energy, with the third largest allocation of EC$119.9M (9.7% of total expenditure).