Delivering dignity back to the people!
MORGAN’S BLUFF, North Andros – North Andros became the first Family Island community to receive Pre-Paid Visa Cards Tuesday, when 168 clients who have qualified for the Department of Social Services Food Assistance Programme received their cards “fully loaded and ready to be used immediately.”
Criteria for qualification for the Food Assistance Programme include those persons enduring genuine economic hardships, low-income wage earners, senior citizens, persons with disabilities on a fixed income who do not have other means of support, and the unemployed.
“If you want to leave here at the conclusion of this ceremony and utilize your cards, you are free to do so because the cards have already been loaded for your use,” Minister of Social Services and Community Development, the Hon. Melanie Sharon Griffin told residents to a resounding round of applause.
“While the card can be used at any authorized merchant within The Bahamas, I would like to encourage you to use the card in your community (as) not only was it designed to empower you as the beneficiary, but also the local community,” Mrs. Griffin added.
Tuesday’s launch in Morgan’s Bluff, allows the Government of The Bahamas, through the Ministry of Social Services and Community Development and the Department of Social Services, to move another step closer towards its goal of ensuring that Bahamians needing assistance have access to that assistance in a more timely, efficient and dignified manner.
Mrs. Griffin said the Government’s ultimate intent is for the card to be available to recipients throughout The Bahamas “in the shortest possible time.”
“The Pre-Paid Card offers clients the opportunity to shop with dignity while empowering families to lead a better way of life,” Mrs. Griffin said. “We have partnered with industry professionals and merchants to offer our clients a variety of shopping options when using the Pre-Paid Card.
Minister Griffin said utilization of the Reloadable Pre-Paid Card has a number of advantages.
“The first and immediate advantage is that persons no longer have to come to the Centre at the end of each month and wait on lines to collect a paper coupon. Secondly, while the paper coupon specifies the food store where it has to be redeemed, the car allows clients to shop around as it can be used at any food store that accepts Pre-Paid cards and thirdly, the full value does not have to be utilized at one time as it allows for purchases to be spread out over the month.
“Already our clients have experienced many benefits from using the prepaid card including the ability to shop at the approved store of their choice; shop with dignity; monitor one’s spending by giving them the ability to use the funds over a period of time,” Minister Griffin added.
Funds are loaded onto the card once per month. The payments are made each government payday.
Launched in New Providence (November, 2014), the reloadable Pre-paid Visa Card is the first phase of the Government of The Bahamas’ Social Safety Net Programme.
The reform of the Social Safety Net Programme is intended to modernize the entire social assistance delivery machinery and will include what is known as a Conditional Cash Transfer programme. Used in many countries around the world and the region, the CCT Programme is designed to modify human behaviour based on certain conditions which families must meet in order to receive what is called “add-ons” to the base for which they qualify.
It is a consolidation of several assistance programmes into one lump sum of monies (via the Pre-Paid Card) to the family to assist them in meeting their needs. (BIS Photos/Patrick Hanna)