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London denies THA food card abuse
Chief Secretary of the Tobago House of Assembly Orville London has dismissed claims that the THA spent more than $2 million on 4,000 cards for the Emergency Social Assistance Card Programme for the month of January. The charges were made by Anslem Richards, the defeated TOP candidate for Roxborough/ Delaford in the THA elections in January.
London said at the post-executive council news conference on Wednesday that while 4,000 cards were printed and given to First Citizens during the period January 9 to January 23, only 142 were distributed. He said it was agreed that First Citizens would manage the account until the programme expired or until all the cards were exhausted.
“You now have a situation where you are telling the public for whatever reason that we would have been reckless enough in an island the size of Tobago to distribute 4,000 cards in two weeks, obviously sending the signal that we are either reckless or we are corrupt or something like that when the facts are that it is 142 cards,” London said.
The THA chief said he was very disappointed in the statement made by Richards since there is an intricate process being followed by the THA before someone could access the Emergency Social Assistance Cards. “He would also have known of the process because he has all the facts and he would have known that it is a process that will have to fill out a form,” London said.
“You have to come in for an interview and then after that you have to be evaluated by a committee that does not include any politicians and it is only then that you are issued the card. “He would also have known that it is a one-off card and that if you wish to continue and to get another card, every single time you have to apply because it is an emergency Social Assistance Card.”
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