JIS News

Government has decided to make cash payments as grants to persons whose houses were damaged by Hurricane Ivan, instead of using the voucher system, which was previously announced.
Minister of Water and Housing, Donald Buchanan made the disclosure in the House of Representatives yesterday (October 12), during his update on the programme of relief and national reconstruction.
Mr. Buchanan told the House that “having decided on the quantum of assistance for affected persons, our next challenge was to decide on a system of distribution, which would ensure, as far as possible, that the funds allocated are used for the purposes intended”.
He said that on closer examination and discussion, it was agreed that the voucher system method of payment was not adequate given the present circumstances.
“For one, many of the affected persons have already started to repair and rebuild their homes with funds loaned to them or by diverting finances set aside for other purposes. What they require is the cash resources, not only to complete, but also to make good on loans and to restore funds that have been diverted,” Mr. Buchanan stated.
He argued that while there was the perception that the voucher system provided guarantees against corruption, this had not been the experience, since in the past there had been occasions where beneficiaries and suppliers had collaborated to substitute a discounted cash payment for the voucher.
“We have therefore decided to pay these assistance grants with cheques, which will be cashed by the beneficiaries, and which will give them the flexibility to make optimum use of the funds in the present circumstances,” Minister Buchanan said. He further informed that the list of beneficiaries for each constituency would be given to each Member of Parliament and for each parish, the Local Authority, for effective monitoring.
Mr. Buchanan stressed that the assistance was not intended to replace totally destroyed units or to compensate to the level of loss sustained as, “government is not an insurer of buildings. It is assisting persons to put their lives back together”.
Persons whose houses were totally destroyed would receive $20,000, while persons whose houses were severely damaged would receive grants of $7,500 to $10,000. Meanwhile, a grant of $5,000 would be paid out for other damage. Payments would be made based on government assessments, which were now being carried out, the Minister said.

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