Chief Secretary Ancil Dennis has pledged the Assembly’s commitment to continue to make resources available to needy Tobagonians.
Dennis made the statement while addressing 20 home-owners, who were last Friday recipients of home improvement grants from the Division of Settlements, Urban Renewal and Public Utilities at the division’s Crown Point office.
The grants distributed represented the first and second tranche of payments, which amounted to $157,500.
Dennis cautioned the recipients to use the money for what it was intended.
He said, “Ensure that you upkeep your end of the bargain, which is to utilise the funding for the purpose for which it was given.
“We have had many situations, even in my own electoral district, where I’ve visited persons and they complained that they got the first half of the grant and they’re waiting on the second part for years, then when I did the checks, only to be told that persons did not submit the required documentation and in other instances, persons would have spent the money doing other things."
Dennis said Tobagonians are by nature honest and he hopes to see that evident.
"Of course, here in Tobago we value our integrity, persons in Tobago are known to be upright and decent and right-thinking individuals and therefore I am encouraging all of you… even as you are receiving the grants, ensure that you do the right thing and utilise the funding for the purpose that it was given.”
He noted that having done his research, it was realised that over the last three years, the division spent some $21 million on programmes designed to assist Tobagonians with home improvement, home completion and home start-up.
“I think that kind of money thus far has been a good investment in the people of Tobago and therefore I want to congratulate the division,” he said noting though that the purpose of such an exercise must be clearly understood.
“We not here to just necessarily to pat ourselves on the shoulder but we are here to give service to the people of Tobago.
“What we have is a situation where the division has managed to answer the call to the people of Tobago. We intend to continue to deliver these grants because it's not a situation where you’re begging, but I believe that Tobagonians are entitled to this kind of support. We want to ensure that we continue to improve the quality of life of the people of Tobago,” he said.
Dennis said he has given a mandate to the Secretary of Settlements, Urban Renewal and Public Utilities Clarence Jacob that, “We must completely eradicate the issue of outhouses in Tobago or what we know as latrines and of course, the issue of leaking roofs and any situation here in Tobago where persons may not be having the kinds of comfort levels that is expected of a decent home.
“We all understand that one of the basic needs of humans is shelter and therefore we intend to ensure that every single Tobagonian on this island, from the youngest individual to the senior citizens that they have access to decent living standards here on the island. So, we would continue to give the support to ensure that persons are able to upgrade and renovate their homes; fix roofs where there are leaks, install proper toilet facilities and other forms of renovations.”
The division’s administrator, Myrna McLeod, said while the current covid19 pandemic has created uncertainty in the minds of many, the Department of Settlements would continue to deliver essential programmes.
“Please do your part to ensure the materials and workmanship are to a high standard and that you maintain your improved spaces,” she told recipients.
Jacob said his division is trying its best to assist as much people as possible.
“I am admonishing you all today… the monies are supposed to be used, or are there, for a purpose and I wish that you all can use it for that specific purpose. We are trying to see how many persons, or how many applicants we could assist and we don’t want a situation where we assist you today then tomorrow is the same complaint, so use the money wisely, use it for its purpose. We are trying to see what monies we can advocate for the rest of applicants to be able to access these grants,” he said.