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Persons who are neither Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH) beneficiaries nor National Insurance Scheme (NIS) pensioners, who suffered extreme damage during Hurricane Dean, will soon begin receiving vouchers to assist with food and other basic needs.
The Ministers Fraternal in each parish and faith-based organisations are being asked to identify such persons. At a meeting with church leaders held at Eden Gardens today (Aug. 27), head of reconstruction efforts, Kingsley Thomas said that there are an estimated 300,000 such persons who are in need of assistance.
“The challenge was to ensure that there are no duplication, and that it is done in the most fair, transparent and even manner. Hence we decide to ask the church to help us with this specific task,” Mr. Thomas said.
The vouchers will be in denominations of $100, and each beneficiary (household) will receive 20 vouchers or a total value of $2,000, which is meant to provide assistance with groceries and medication.
The Ministers Fraternal will receive lists from assessment teams as well as compile a list based on their network in the communities. They will also receive and distribute vouchers that may be cashed through commercial banks, Pay Master branches islandwide, and the Jamaica National Building Society.
“The Ministry of Labour and Social Security has a list of individuals (who are in need). The church will also know of people who are in need of service and such assistance and so you feed those into us and we will provide you with the vouchers to distribute to these needy ones,” Mr. Thomas explained.
He added that “the Parish Councillors will also be providing names of persons in need of assistance to ensure that there is some completeness with whosoever gets this special allowance.”
Mr. Thomas informed that as it relates to small farmers, the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), will assist in this area and will be responsible for issuing the vouchers to this group.
“The vouchers are being printed, processed and packaged in 20 voucher packs. We hope to be in a position by tomorrow to have them for distribution. We need to work out the logistics of how we get them to you (the church) with the list from the Ministry and also for you to feed into us the list,” Mr. Thomas said.
Prime Minister, Portia Simpson Miller on Wednesday (Aug. 22) announced that citizens in need, who do not fall under PATH or the NIS, will be given vouchers to purchase food supplies.
“In order to ensure full transparency and accountability in the distribution of these vouchers, we intend to request the Ministers Fraternal in each parish to be in charge of the distribution of these vouchers in collaboration with the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM),” Mrs. Simpson Miller said.