JIS News

Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister, with responsibility for Local Government, Robert Montague, is requesting all Jamaicans to go to their local churches this weekend and make a contribution to the poorest of the poor in the society, the indigent.”We are calling on Jamaicans to come out and give this weekend,” the State Minister appealed.
Mr. Montague was speaking on JIS TV’s ‘Issues and Answers’, an interview programme with Ian Boyne, to be aired this week, about his Indigent Housing Fund, which he first enunciated in his Sectoral Debate presentation in the House on June 24.
He is asking that churches all over the country take up a special offering this weekend, July 12 and 13, to be contributed toward the Fund.
“The idea is to give all Jamaicans, because we are a Christian country.an opportunity to fulfill that Christian mission to help the poor. This is an idea that stretches across political and denominational boundaries. It calls Jamaicans to the ideals of volunteerism,” he added.
An indigent is a person who has signed over all his or her possessions to the Government, is declared a pauper and placed on the pauper roll, Minister Montague said.
He has also asked the 60 Members of Parliament (MPs) from both political parties, to contribute $250,000 each from the $2 million they all get for Social housing in their constituencies, to the Indigent Housing Fund. This Fund is to be implemented by the Department of Local Government and used to provide help to registered paupers all over Jamaica. If all MPs contribute to this Fund, this will net $15 million, which the Minister said would be matched by the Department of Local Government, leaving a shortfall of $20 million of the $50 million target.
While some churches have already added this as an item for their services this weekend, others are asking that the State Minister not make this a one-off affair.
“Some churches have placed it on the table to us; they don’t want this to be a one weekend affair. They want to identify some indigents in their communities and to adopt and take care of them,” he told JIS News.
He called on Jamaicans, who are not so poor, to assist their neighbours. He entreated those who have an extra sheet of zinc or other building material, which they are not using, to give them to those in need.
“The widow’s mite is very important,” he said, referring to the woman in the Bible who gave all she had, although it was small compared to what other rich persons were able to give, without affecting their lives.
Mr. Montague said that for the last 12 years, no provisions have been made for the indigent in Jamaica, hence his decision to seek $50 million to assist them in their daily living. “There has been provision for Social Housing, which, if you stretch it, could also cover the indigent, but an indigent person is a direct responsibility of the society, and we must realize that the relief of the poor is everybody’s business,” he added.

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