Sep 20, 2011 News
Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Priya Manickchand, has denied that her Ministry ever stopped the public assistance for Doris Balkissoon, 53, of Enmore, East Coast Demerara.
Balkissoon’s relatives had stated that the public assistance was reportedly stopped several months ago without any notice or explanation.
The Minister yesterday explained that the woman has received her “assistance book” up to December. She uplifted the book in June.
Kaieteur News was told that books are renewable every six months. The books according to the minister are distributed to cover January to June, and July to December.
This newspaper was told that the grant is made for a short time only and is reviewed every January and July by the local board of guardians who have the power to continue or discontinue the grant.
There are more than 100,000 people who may need public assistance but only the poorest of the poor can qualify—some 15,000.
The minister made it clear that she has no jurisdiction to receive applications for public assistance or to grant or refuse public assistance.
Kaieteur News was further told that the Ministry only becomes involved only after the respective board has made its decision.
More so, the minister said that although the grant is given, it was never meant to be for life. “It’s a grant intended to last at most six months, hence the review every January and July.
From time to time the Ministry has advised that certain permanently disabled persons who because of their financial status should be given priority in the board’s consideration, but again that is only advice given by the board.
Each district has a board. A Linden board cannot pronounce on the fate of one from someone from East Coast Demerara.
People are taken off from time to time and that is often determined by the needs of others.
Balkissoon was born with a medical condition which hinders her speech. Kaieteur News was told that the woman is fully aware of her surroundings, but just cannot speak.
On Thursday Balkissoon’s home went up in flames.
The fire is believed to have been started by a kerosene stove that flared up.
Kaieteur News was told that the woman’s mother also died last March.
Relatives had told Kaieteur News that the public assistance was reportedly stopped several months ago without any notice or explanation.
In a letter, Minister Manickchand accused the newspaper of being sensational with the headline that screamed ‘Human Services Ministry halts Public Assistance for Disabled Woman’.
She dubbed the story fictitious and accused the paper of being irresponsible and reckless.
“If your claim is true…that you were told so by her brother, then by causing us to disclose this, you may have just placed the happiness and existence of this poor woman in jeopardy.”
Editor, Adam Harris, however, said that he did try to contact Minister Manickchand. He called her phone from Balkissoon’s residence but there was never a return call.
Since then the Minister has provided the numbers of all the contact people within her Ministry.
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