By Gary Eleazar
According to a senior official close to the office of the Minister of Human Services and Social Security, the details of the long awaited Single-Parent Assistance will be unveiled tomorrow.
This move comes after several meetings between the subject Minister, Priya Manickchand, and Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh on how exactly the allocated money would be best utilized and subsequent approval by Cabinet.
According to the official, training will be a key aspect of the assistance whilst grants will be another area of assistance.
The official explained a scenario wherein persons could be trained in hairdressing or carpentry, and the grant would subsequently be provided to purchase the necessary accessories, thus enabling the trained persons to use the skills acquired and turn it into a viable source of income.
The President had announced the initiative in early 2008 and following the registration process, the information was placed into a database which assisted in the determination of the assistance strategy.
The majority of persons who submitted the more than 35,000 registration forms were from Region Four.
Among the difficulties presented in completing the database is the fact that some persons had registered more than one time with different addresses.
Minister Manickchand has had to fend off a barrage of criticism leveled at the initiative because of what was seen as a delay in rendering any form of assistance based on the initiative announced by the President.
“Single parents by their very nature are recognised by Government as a vulnerable group and so the verification process will allow for accurate information on the number of people we are dealing with and the type of intervention they need,” Manickchand had told this newspaper.
The programme was launched by the Ministry as skyrocketing food prices began to take its toll on single-parent households and, it is generally aimed at cushioning the high cost of living.
At the launch of the initiative which was held at the Ministry’s Water and Cornhill Streets office, Manickchand was joined by six female parliamentarians, namely Dr Desrey Fox, Gail Teixeira, Jennifer Westford, Jennifer Webster, Pauline Sukhai-Campbell and Indra Chandrapal.
“The rising food prices are largely because of external factors and it is something they have no control over so government has taken several measures to address the high cost of living,” Manickchand had stated.
The move, described as a Cabinet initiative, is targeting single parents that act as sole financial anchors, as well as men who run single-parent households.
More than 200,000 forms were printed and were available at the Ministry, all schools and at the National and Regional Democratic Councils.
Manickchand had said that the register complements a growing list of government assistance programmes, including difficult circumstances, uniform and public aid.
She stated that even before the National Budget allocation, several thousand persons were benefiting from public assistance.
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