MPs to get additional $200m for constituents
THE Ministry of Labour and Social Security will be allocating $200 million to Members of Parliament to address the urgent needs of their constituents, Minister Karl Samuda announced on Wednesday.
He said this is one of the strategies which will be employed, going forward, to address historical concerns of MPs as they seek to provide assistance for their constituents. “This should improve the level of collaboration with MPs,” he said, noting that in order to make the allocation the ministry is reviewing the policies governing the rehabilitation programme, for greater involvement of Parliamentarians.
The rehabilitation programme provides a range of grants to address the financial needs of vulnerable persons such as the elderly, and families who have lost the means of making their own livelihoods.
Samuda noted that for the first seven months of the 2022/23 fiscal year the programme spent $253 million assisting 5,648 families.
In addition to the $200 million, MPs’ allocation provided under the short-term poverty intervention programme is being bumped up from $1.5 million to $2 million for each MP, Samuda advised.
To assist with the process, in the coming weeks each MP will receive the name and contact details of a social worker who has been assigned to their constituency.
“No business of: ‘Now you see me, now you don’t.’ They will be a permanent part of your constituency operations.”
The allocations are in addition to the $20 million which MPs currently receive, an amount which MP for Manchester North Western Mikael Phillips has pointed out has become inadequate due to the exponential increase in the needs of constituents over the past decade.
“The needs have increased; the wants have swelled. In these 10 years inflation has increased by approximately 30-40 per cent. The only tool we have to respond to the plight of our constituents have not changed in the last 10 years,” the rural MP said, describing the situation as a travesty in his 2022 sectoral presentation.
In the meantime, since the Government launched a social intervention programme for elderly persons who have no pension support, in July 2020, 12,000 individuals over the age of 75 have been benefiting, the social security minister told the House.
“Our brigade of more than 100 interns are in the field actively seeking every eligible senior citizen to ensure that they are registered for assistance. This is what will be done in each constituency,” he said.
He said the Registrar General’s Department has stepped in to assist another 2,000 elderly persons who have not been able to register due to a lack of civil documents, stressing that, “Nobody who is not in possession of a birth certificate must be denied because of not having that piece of document.”