Secretary of Health, Wellness and Family Development Tracy Davidson-Celestine said 150 applications for rental assistance grant are still being processed. To date, she said the division received 932 applications and 67 have been denied.
At the post Executive Council media briefing on Thursday in Scarborough, Davidson-Celestine acknowledged challenges in the processing of the grants but assured the division is focused on treating with each application submitted.
Davidson-Celestine said over $4 million in rental assistance has been disbursed while there is approximately $1.8 million worth of applications to be processed.
She said: “We have about approximately 150 applications which are still ongoing, in the sense that it requires verification. Our members of staff have been awaiting the receipt of documentations from some of those who would have applied, they have not since yet received those documentations. At one of our meetings last week, we determined that we should have a core group of persons who would go out to knock on the doors of those persons who have not yet submitted the documentation to accompany the application forms which have been submitted for rental assistance in the Division of Health, Wellness and Family Development.”
On Wednesday, a news report indicated that some documents for salary relief grant on the island were not filed, while others were not placed on the system and as a result could not have been found in Trinidad, which led to a backlog. However, the Secretary denied this.
“We never made any report, we have never indicated to the public that we have had any issues with any application forms being hidden in any desk or drawers or in anywhere in the Division of Health, Wellness and Family Development. So, I am not in a position to respond to anything that is going viral in terms of that report coming from the division, because it has not emanated from there,” she said.
Davidson-Celestine said she plans to meet with the Minister of Social Development Donna Cox to discuss any challenges with the grants that are administered by her ministry.
“She has already indicated that she will be coming to Tobago next week Monday or Tuesday for us to discuss whether there are any challenges as it pertains to Tobagonians accessing those grants.
“There are regular discussions with the Minster of Finance with a view to sorting out any issues we may have when it comes to the other aspect of the salary relief grants. So from us, we have not given any indication to the members of the public that we have any application forms hidden in any desk or anywhere for that matter in the Division of Health, Wellness and Family Development.”
Asked about reports that some people were conspiring to defraud the Assembly and the Ministry of Social Development by allegedly submitting fake payslips and job letters to access grants, the secretary said no report was made to the police.
“For the Tobago situation so far, 67 applications have been denied or cancelled and that is because we’ve seen persons who had applied for rental assistance for commercial spaces, non-nationals applications, persons who had income above $10,000 and that kind of thing. So about 67 of those applications have since been denied,” she said.