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$2.5m in hand-up grants over five months—minister
Close to $2.5 million have been given out in poverty reduction grants over a five-month period by the Ministry of the People and Social Development, Minister in the Ministry Vernella Alleyne-Toppin said yesterday. The money was paid out between October 2013 and March 2014. There will be an amplification of the delivery of the grants in the coming months and a more equitable distribution of resources, she added.
The minister was delivering the feature address at a function at the Banquet and Conference Hall, MovieTowne, Port-of-Spain, to hand out another 150 grants under the Micro Enterprise and Training Grant, offered to needy people to start small businesses or do skills training. The function was hosted by the ministry’s National Poverty Reduction and Eradication Programmes Co-ordinating Unit. Alleyne-Toppin also announced that Cabinet recently approved an increase in the grant from $5,000 to $15,000.
She said many of the recipients buy weed whackers for landscaping projects, set up hamburger stands and open hair and nail salons. Advising them to find a way to do what they liked, she said: “When I was in school, my best subject was recess. “I only wanted to play. My father asked me if I could make a living from playing and I ended up being a physical education teacher.” Challenging the recipients to take advantage of the opportunities, Alleyne-Toppin said the ministry had a plaster for every sore.
“Any problem you have, tell it to the People’s Issues Resolution Programme,” she added. Duane Dennie, director with the poverty reduction programme, said: “This is not a hand-out, it’s a hand-up.” The less fortunate can also access up to $10,000 under the Micro Enterprise Loan Facility, he said. Deputy director Jason Jack said another programme was developed under the TT Card system to help people get out of poverty.
“We give them the food card on the condition they work with us to do skills training,” he said.