JIS News

Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister, Hon. Luther Buchannan, has informed that some 5,000 residents have been issued with Hurricane Sandy relief cheques, as part of efforts by the government to assist families affected by the disaster.

Speaking at the weekly Jamaica House press briefing, held at the Office of the Prime Minister on Thursday (December 6), he noted that another 10,000 persons are due to receive similar assistance under the programme.

He informed that to date, the Ministry of Agriculture has assessed a total of 32,580 farmers, while the Ministry of Labour and Social Security has assessed more than 15,000 people, who were severely affected by the passage of the Hurricane on October 24.

The State Minister pointed out that of the 15,000 residents that were assessed, about 5,000 were issued with cheques, ranging from $30,000 to $50,000, depending on the level of damage suffered.

Mr. Buchannan further informed that the delay in issuing cheques to the remaining families is due, in part, to the fact that some persons are trying to cheat the system.

He noted that in an effort to “protect the integrity” of the programme, the Government is forced to ramp up its verification process.

"As a result of the continuous rains there are persons who have been trying to repeat themselves on the assistance list,” he said.

Mr. Buchannan pointed out that such cases have been seen in all three affected parishes – St. Thomas, St. Mary and Portland.

The State Minister said while these incidents are not widespread, the government is doing all it can to clamp down on those persons who are attempting to defraud the system.

“To protect the integrity of the government’s efforts, it has caused us to be very cautious in terms of how we proceed,” he said.

He noted that despite the various setbacks, the programme has been progressing steadily and the government remains cognisant of its responsibilities.