The Ministry of Social Protection has formulated several programmes and policies to create an enabling welfare state; one which helps people to help themselves.
This is according to Social Protection Minister, Amna Ally.
She recently noted that her Ministry will continue to give the unemployed youth the skills to find a decent job; the single mother the support she needs to go out and work or start a small business; and vulnerable persons, the right care and protection needed to better their lives.
Ally said that with the multitudinous achievements of this Ministry, she has absolutely no hesitation in saying that the Coalition Government, stands at the centre of many of these advances. She said that these achievements did not come by chance. She opined that the administration’s actions continue to be informed by the pledge it made to the people – that is, securing a better life for all.
Furthermore, the politician explained that the Ministry of Social Protection has four programmes. She was elated to explain what has been accomplished thus far, and the plans in the pipeline.
Under the First Lady’s capacity building initiative, Ally revealed that over 900 persons, mainly single parent mothers and young women, have been trained in the areas of information communication technology, care for the elderly, first aid, childcare, early childhood development, self-reliance and success in business.
With respect to the Sustainable Livelihood and Entrepreneurial Development (SLED) Programme, Ally recalled that a total of $100 million was allocated in 2017. To date, the Ministry has established 20 projects in various regions, and these projects vary from pig farming, poultry rearing, and manufacturing, to shade house cultivation among others.
Ally said that today, her Ministry can boast that over 253 households, totaling 1170 persons, are the beneficiaries. In 2018, the Ministry will expand the SLED programme. Ally said she believes that this will support community-based income generation activities as well as employment.
Ally also stated that in 2017 the Ministry continued its implementation of the Women of Worth (WOW) programme. In this regard, she asserted that 40 loans were issued not only for WOW, but also for the People of Worth Entrepreneurial Resources (POWER) programme.
With respect to the latter, Ally said that 17 loans were issued for varying efforts. These, she said, are programmes geared towards improving the lives of the citizenry. She said that it also brings the Government closer to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), four of which speak to ending all forms of poverty.
Under the programme ‘Social Services’, Ally related that the Ministry addresses a variety of issues, with some being very challenging. In relation to Trafficking in Persons, Ally said that this has been a task which the Coalition Government has taken seriously.
“We have made great strides in countering trafficking in persons. Because of our political will, our programmes, our networking, something which the opposition never had, has resulted in Guyana moving from Tier 2 to Tier 1. This Coalition Government under the Ministry of Social Protection will continue to fight to eradicate this inhumane phenomenon from the Guyanese society.”
Ally added, “We are proud to be lifted in the international ranking. Our network and partnerships with the Ministerial Task Force, Jamaica Trafficking in Persons and the Embassy of the United States of America have all contributed to this huge success story. In 2018, the Ministry will develop Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the treatment of human trafficking victims.”
The Minister commented that there is no doubt that the Government will do everything possible to eradicate this scourge.
When it comes to the wellbeing of senior citizens, Ally proudly stated that the Government will provide an improved life for the elderly.
She said that since the APNU+AFC Coalition came to power, it has increased old age pension by 49%.
“You hear a lot of mumblings about a small increase, but let me just take time off to give you some facts. In 2010, pensioners were receiving peanuts; a mere $6,600. In 2011 they got $7,500. For 2012 it went up to $10,000. In 2013 the elderly got 12,500 and in 2014, they received $13,125.”
The Minister added, “However, when this Coalition Government came into office, senior citizens’ pension was significantly increased to $17,000. For 2018, it will go to $19,500.”
More than that, Ally said that pensioners are relieved from paying departure tax, as well as for driver’s licence, and passports among other things. She said that the Government not only raised the bar on pensions, but looked at improving the welfare of residents in care facilities, hence it established a visiting committee to evaluate, report and monitor all facilities.
In this regard, she outlined that the objective is to achieve enhanced standards of elderly residential facilities throughout Guyana. Ally also noted that over 40% of these facilities have been visited and assessed.
The Social Protection Minister said that in 2018, a National Policy on Ageing will be developed. She said that the overarching goal will be to promote and support the social, economic and cultural re-integration of older persons into mainstream society, and to enable the senior citizen population, as far as practicable, to participate in the national development process.
Ally said that the Ministry will establish an elderly welfare section within the Probation and Social Services Department in 2018, to monitor the daily operations of elderly residential care facilities, in collaboration with the Visiting Committee, and investigate reports of elderly abuse.
SOCIAL INCLUSION POLICY
According to Ally, the Government sees gender as an inclusionary issue. With this in mind, she pointed out that it is in the process of formulating a national gender and social inclusion policy which will aim to mainstream gender issues into all sectors in order to eliminate all negative economic, social and cultural practices that impede equality and equity.
It will also develop, maintain and provide gender-sensitive information and gender-disaggregated data for use in planning and project implementation at all levels and in all sectors.
Ally said that the Government has already commenced consultations and by the end of December 2017, the draft policy will be completed.
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