Bostic: Free welfare of partisan links
CITY REPRESENTATIVE Jeffrey Bostic, while accepting means testing for welfare recipients, has called for the removal of all partisan involvement, including the Constituency Councils, and the provision of a national coordinating mechanism for the provision of welfare, including state agencies, churches and NGOs.
He was speaking in the House of Assembly yesterday during debate on a supplementary resolution for $4.5 million to help the Welfare Department meet its grants to individuals commitments to the end of the financial year March 31.
“What I would like to call for is some level of transparency and social equity,”?he said.
“I refer to the work done by the established agencies in terms of assisting in alleviating poverty in Barbados. I’m saying that as the situation worsens economically, that obviously the demands are going to be greater for welfare and social assistance of all forms and fashions.”
Bostic noted the Country Assessment of Living Conditions (CALC) 2010 referred to the support rendered by the established agencies created to provide welfare to the vulnerable, including the Welfare Department, the Child Care Board, National Disabilities Unit, National Assistance Board (NAB) and the Community Development Department, supported by NGOs, and then in 1999 with the creation of the Ministry of Social Transformation.
He felt those established agencies would be of even more critical importance today, and recalled the report also noting that poverty had increased to 19.3 per cent, or by one in five, and that a further ten per cent lived on the borderline.
“So that it was quite evident from back then, given the current economic crisis that confronts us all, that the demands on the Welfare Department’s assistance would be even that much greater,” he said.
Bostic reported that at the constituency level, there had been a significant increase in the number of people seeking help with utilities, a reduction in the quantum of welfare cheques and an increase in food vouchers.
He complained about the continued closure of the public baths at Concrete Alley and at Green Park Lane at a time when several vulnerable residents had had their water services disconnected because of their inability to pay and they had resorted to using standpipes.
Bostic said Government ought to consider reopening the public baths with the appropriate administrative regime or mechanism to properly supervise them so they do not fall back into the same state that they are in now caused by abuse.
Bostic also pointed to the cessation of training programmes under the auspices of the Community Development Division at community centres to provide skills and some employment. (AB)