The Prime Minister has pledged to continue to maintain the existing social support system. He said this will cost the State upwards of $5 billion to support 182,000 people, in addition to the assistance provided to people during the pandemic.
Speaking at a media conference on Monday, Dr Rowley said senior citizens, the disabled, people on food cards and those who look to the state for assistance will continue to be supported.
“The social support system is the Senior Citizen’s Grant, where we support 107,000 people, is costing upwards of $4 billion. There are 19,000 people who look to the state for assistance, that is $490 million, there are 25,500 people with disabilities who are supported by the state, that’s $615 million, and there are 30,500 people who get their main meals supported by food cards in this country, that’s $185 million.”
The budget for the Ministry of Social Development and Family Services was $4.96 billion, which comprised 8.7 per cent of the total 2021 national budget of $49.573 billion.
Dr Rowley said during the pandemic, government had also provided support for people in need, including 250,000 food boxes, $237 million to people who were retrenched, terminated or had their income reduced, $14 million to people who had applied for senior citizens’ and disability grants but had not yet been processed, $7 million in food voucher and $22 million for rental assistance.
Rowley said the government will provide financial assistance to those most in need after the announcement of further restrictions to fight the covid19 virus. This assistance will be until May 23, when the measures are expected to be lifted.
He said $5 million will be released to provide food boxes through the Ministry of Agriculture. Another $10 million will be given to ecclesiastical bodies to distribute to those who depend on them. He said another $40-$50 million will be distributed to those in greatest need.