2,210 requests for Govt. voucher programme

PHILIPSBURG–A total of 2,210 persons have so far submitted requests for government’s “basic necessities voucher” programme.

Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labour VSA Emil Lee said on Wednesday that a total of 2,060 persons have already picked up their vouchers.

The Department of Labour Affairs and Social Services had received more than 1,800 applications for the programme up to late November last year. The Department said in a press release at that time that phase one of the programme would end on Friday, December 1, and the Ministry would move on to Phase 2, which was said to be a more community-based approach. The status of the community-based approach could not be ascertained.

The Department said also that Phase 2 would focus on “increasing and solidifying” the reach within the community, with the help of community leaders, volunteer organisations, religious entities and non-profit, non-governmental organisations, through the collaborative efforts of Community Development, Family and Humanitarian Affairs (CDFHA). As a result, the department was no longer distributing applications via the Government Administration Building.

Lee told reporters on Wednesday that all Ministries have staff and a budget designed for normal operations. The operations for the VSA Ministry had been set for the year based on the anticipated workload.

“What’s happened after [Hurricane – Ed.] Irma is that this workload has dramatically increased. There are social housing issues, people who need financial and medical aid and the workload for the Ministry has increased dramatically, but instead the resources have reduced, he said.”

He said the Ministry is struggling with, for example, vehicles for inspectors to go out and do their jobs. Some new vehicles were received from the Netherlands, but Lee said it is a “constant battle” to get resources for the Ministry to carry out its work. Ministries are stretched to their limit, he added, and until more resources are available, he urged the public to have some patience.

In an unrelated issue, Lee said also that two dismissal requests have been filed at the Department of Labour Affairs thus far. He did not specify how many workers they concern and from what companies.

Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/72841-2-210-requests-for-govt-voucher-programme