Accessing of public assistance now a hassle

first_imgDear Editor,The accessing of public assistance is now a royal prerogative which only the chosen few can acquire. The service now solely depends on Government officers, who it seems are bent on applying their own subjective criteria other than objective guidelines.According to the Director of Social Services, Mr Wentworth Tanner, public assistance is conditional, and applicants have to fulfill certain requirements before they receive the assistance. Currently, there are over 10,000 persons receiving the assistance under the categories of medical, temporary and economic public assistance.Mr Tanner also said the applicant must prove the money is being spent for what it is indeed. He gave an example that in the case of an application for assistance on behalf of a school-aged child, the child must be registered, and the attendance must be 85 per cent. A child simply cannot make 85 per cent attendance before accessing the cash to go to school. That is equivalent to putting the cart before the horse. The child needs the assistance, so that he/she can attend school regularly. It cannot happen in the reverse!Many persons are denied the public assistance even though they cannot sustain themselves, and in some case their families. Some people are bluntly rejected by the Government officers, who tell them that their relatives or children abroad or in Guyana can sustain them. These officers need to understand that families and children do not support dependents unless dependents have something to offer them in return.Moreover, some applicants who are denied the assistance are bedridden, but were told that their children should look after them. Some are also differently abled. It is a shame that they are denied the assistance!Throughout Region 6, there are some officers who, it seems, were nurtured in a pigsty, given their rude and aggressive attitude towards some applicants. Imagine, these people are insulted and rejected for the ‘princely’ sum of $8,000 per month! Is this social protection afforded by this Government? This type of attitude has resulted in many persons being afraid to even apply! The people in the Social Protection Ministry must have undergone training sessions costing millions of dollars; all being wasted!In the 2018 Budget, the Ministry of Social Protection received $16.988 billion to continue its mandate of providing quality service to the country’s vulnerable groups – women, children, the elderly, homeless and youths; yet these vulnerable groups are insulted and chased away when they attempt to access the assistance.There are many widows who are denied this assistance, while some who continue to reproduce for multiple partners are given public assistance without any hassle. Why are these applications not accepted and carefully investigated, and the findings then sent to the Board for a decision to be made? Applicants must be made to feel that their requests are given due process. On many occasions, people of a certain ethnicity are the ones who are rudely rejected.Old age pensioners are not excluded from this type of discriminatory practice. It must be recalled that, not so long ago, the electricity and water subsidies were snatched away. In some cases, if the applicant applies a year after attaining the age of 65, he/she is given the ‘royal run around’ to access the benefit. Moreover, the residency requirements are applied in a discriminatory manner.There are instances when persons have been spending a large proportion of their time in Guyana and yet have been denied the assistance. They are told that they travelled to the US on a regular basis, hence they cannot qualify for old age pension. The Social Protection Ministry had stated that, ‘In the event that the person is temporarily absent from Guyana, the applicant or pensioner must satisfy the Authority, usually through the provision of the person’s passport and an immigration check conducted by the Ministry, that the period of absence from Guyana has not exceeded two years during the past twenty years, according to law.’ Why is this criteria not applied in all cases? Why is this changed to ‘you are travelling regularly to the US so you cannot qualify’?It is time that the vulnerable groups: women, children, the elderly, homeless and youths, be treated fairly, and not be discriminated against because of race or ethnicity or political affiliations.I call upon Minister Amna Ally to convince these rejected applicants that they are being treated fairly. The money belongs to the taxpayers, not the Government!Yours sincerely,Haseef YusufRDC Councillor,Region 6last_img

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