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Hardwares fleecing recipients of home-repair grants—Suruj
Local Government Minister Dr Surujrattan Rambachan says the Self Help Commission will crack down on hardware dealers who have been taking advantage of beneficiaries of home-repair grants. Rambachan made the declaration yesterday as he revealed that the commission had uncovered a number of instances in which hardware dealers had been marking up their prices to fleece grant recipients.
The minister, addressing a grant-distribution ceremony at the commission’s Independence Avenue, San Fernando, office yesterday, said the Self Help Commission would eliminate such hardware. He said when he received quotations, he contacted the hardware store personally to verify the prices.
“I would get a lower price than the price that is on the quotation,” Rambachan said. Often, he said, it was less fortunate people who were being taken advantage of by dishonest dealers. “I think that is very, very unfortunate..We should have a high level of corporate citizenry, especially when it comes to the unfortunate in society,” he said.
Yesterday, the commission distributed 49 emergency home-repair grants totalling $600,000 to families whose homes were damaged by natural disaster or fire or were in a state of disrepair. Commission chairman Surajdeo Mungroo said over the last few weeks he had seen a lot of sadness displayed by families hit by disaster.
“Today we are bringing joy to those families,” he said. Ellen Nandlal, of Macaulay, Claxton Bay, expressed gratitude, shouting, “God bless the Prime Minister,” as she received her grant. The grants ranged from $10,000 to $15,000. Commission CEO Reynold Baldeosingh, commenting on reports of corruption in the system, admitted that it was a problem. He said it was also discovered that hardwares had been using the illiteracy of the recipients to their advantage.
“When they receive these materials, they make the recipients sign and they do not get all of the materials. People who have been engaging in those types of practices may find themselves not receiving any orders from us,” he said. Baldeosingh said on November 27, the commission would meet with suppliers to discuss the requirements for being a supplier.
“We will have an approved list that we will share with grant applicants in each district and we will tell them which are the hardwares that will not charge them $20 to $100 to write up a quotation,” Baldeosingh said.
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