FNM Gov’t Increases Assistance to the Poor

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Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham.

LISTEN NOW – Prime Minister Ingraham’s Communication

Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham announced new increases in social assistance to the poor Monday; a continuation of the Government’s stated determination to cushion the impact of international turbulence upon Bahamians, particularly those in lower income brackets.

The increases, which come into effect October 1, cover areas including food, rental, medical, disability, work and basic needs assistance.

In the Government’s 2008/2009 Budget Communication, Prime Minister Ingraham announced provisions for a Department of Social Services allocation increase to permit meaningful increases in all areas of relief for the poor.

In its first fiscal Budget upon returning to office, the Ingraham administration increased its Social Service allocation by 20.5 percent to $31.8 million over the previous budget, with $3 million specifically earmarked for poverty alleviation.

The Government provided a further increase in its current budget of some $7 million or 22 percent, so as to increase assistance to the poor by almost 45 percent or $13 million over a two-year period.

Mr. Ingraham, during his parliament communication on the increases said: “The Commonwealth of The Bahamas has not yet achieved the status of a developed country. Nevertheless, we are fortunate to be able to enjoy a standard of living that is second only to that of the developed countries in our hemisphere.

“Our resources on a per capita basis are nowhere near those of the United States of America; still my colleagues and I believe that we have a political mandate and a moral duty to alleviate poverty in these islands; and we also have the will so to do.”

The move to increase social assistance to the poor is in keeping with action taken by the Ingraham administration in 1992, when at the beginning of its first term in office it acted to increase assistance to the neediest in the society.

The then administration improved benefits available under the National Insurance Programme to widows and orphans, increased non-contributory old-age pensions, expanded assistance to the needy and extended the school lunch programme to include increased numbers of children from disadvantaged families in New Providence, Grand Bahama and around the Family Islands.

“It was in keeping with that policy of responsiveness to the needs of our people that caused us recently to take steps to bring relief to many Bahamian families who have been so negatively impacted by the skyrocketing cost of energy that their supply of electricity had been turned off,” the Prime Minister pointed out.

The schedule of increases as announced by Prime Minister Ingraham is as follows:
Increases in Assistance to the Poor:

* Assistance with utility payments (electricity and water) based on the production of billing and verification of need has been increased from a one-time assistance of $300 to payments totalling up to $600 per year.

* The Department of Social Services will also collaborate with the Urban Renewal Programme to assist low-income families to replace regular electric bulbs with energy-efficient bulbs.

* Provision of uniforms and shoes to children of low-income families has been increased by 15 per cent.

* Assistance for funeral expenses for low-income families has been increased from $550 to $650.

* Fire relief replacement of basic needs such as clothing and household items has been increased from a one-time payment of $2,000 to $2,500.

* Monthly payments to persons medically certified as being unable to work for a temporary period and who are not eligible for National Insurance benefits or assistance payments have been increased from a minimum of $120 to a maximum of $160 to: a minimum of $140 for a single person, $160 for a person with one dependant, $180 for two dependants, $200 for three dependants, $220 for four dependants, and $240 for five or more dependants.

* Rental assistance for low income or unemployed persons who are facing eviction has been increased from a one-time payment of $300 to payments totalling up to $1,200 per year. Payments to be made directly to the landlord.

* Minor repairs to owner-occupied homes of seniors and persons with disabilities increased from one-time payment of $2,000 to $2,500.

*      Monthly payments for children in foster homes have been increased from $160 to $200 for a child up to 13 years of age, and from $200 to $240 for a child between 14 and 18 years of age.

*    Monthly food assistance based on need for a specified period has been increased from $50, $60, $70 and $80 to: $80 for a single person, $100 for a person with one dependant, $120 for two dependants, $140 for three dependants, $160 for four dependants and $180 for five or more dependants.

* Emergency food assistance grants have been increased from a maximum of $50 to a maximum of $100 based on emergency needs.

* A monthly allowance for children with disabilities under the age of 16, who are ineligible for benefits or assistance payments from National Insurance and whose families are having financial difficulties, has been increased from $100 for one child, $180 for two children, $240 for three children to: $120 per child.

* Work assistance payment for an unemployed needy person in a job providing charitable or community services has been increased from $190 per week to $210 per week, which is the government’s minimum wage.

Mr. Ingraham said, “I believe that the Bahamian people will welcome these increases in assistance to the poor and disadvantaged among us. I hope that we will all thank God that we are in a position to reach out to those who live permanently or occasionally find themselves on the margins of our society.”

16 COMMENTS

  1. Joe Blow is right and Minister of Potholes etc has a valid point. Why cant we in The Bahamas come up with something like that?

  2. THINK GUYS BARBADOS HAS FREE HEALTH CARE & FREE UNIVERSITY HOW !

    YOU KNOW HOW THEY GROW & SELL SUGAR FROM SUGARCANE THE MONEY PAYS FOR FREE HEALTH & UNIVERSITY

    ASK YOUR LEADERS WHY WE CANT DO THE SAME BARBADOS HAS 300 THOUSAND PEOPLE JUST LIKE US

    WHY CANT WE DO THIS ?

    FUNNY WE BUY BARBADOS SUGAR TO MAKE OUR SODAS
    WE PAY FOR THERE FREE HEALTH CARE GOOD LORD

  3. We all need to understand that those battles on the floor of the House is the real “sham”. After those battles the
    good ole boys” from both sides go out together to discuss their “shenanigans” and who bested who. P.C. and H.I. are two peas in the same pod. There is little difference between the PLP and the FNM. H.I. is the better tactitioner and P.C. has a gift for gab but often makes no sense.I doubt it matters much which party one votes for. We need reform at every level. No one person appears to have what it takes to turn this country around. We are in for a very rough ride. We do so love to run our mouths off though and call names and make accusations without knowing the facts.

  4. Spectator I glad someone else is on to this government. I KNOW its a sham !! We will all soon hear what exactly is going on.

    Always remember the FNM government and its leader do not care about the poor and middle class of this country.

  5. Will the so call “poor” be able or have the ability to access the assistance? This is a sham be careful.

  6. Thats just it Joe Blow. We ARE full time Bahamians and we suffering and THATS WHY we are making noise about it.

    I am middle class to and own my own business. Sometimes its a struggle to keep my firm open and pay my staff. Things are tough all around and the middle class stand to lose the most.

    I AGREE fully thta the stop, review and cancel was damaging to our economy…..and driven by spite and revenge.

  7. joe blow, can you recall anytime that the plp did not honour any contracts, called a commission of inquiry, or better yet went digging for any dirt the fnm left behind

    but because the fnm tries so hard to paint a picture of thievery againsnt the plp, and to portray themselves as being so damm honest
    thats where “stop review , cancel came about

  8. The Middle Class in any country always has the job of keeping a country afloat. We also are the last to receive any breaks from the government or unions or churches or anyone else. Perhaps that is why we try so hard to rise to the next level. The “poor” have avenues for assistance because we, M.C.’s, are a very compassionate bunch.
    As to stop, review and cancel, I advise you to examine these so called projects carefully and you will come to the conclusion that it was the correct decision. Take off your political hat and start being a full time Bahamian!

  9. all the assistance given to the so called “poor
    and indigent” tells you how bad things really is in this country.

    the fnm has certainly not delivered. dismal, dismal, dismal, peformance. as i said in another post the quality of life for our citizens has been downgraded exponentially
    all because of “stop, review, and cancel

  10. Where is the relief for the middle class who is suffering daily to keep people employed, pay the high cost of electricity for their homes and businesses and basically every bill that the poor has. The rich in this country are thriving while the middle income are paying dearly to hang on to some sort of normalcy. Their businesses are closing daily and will soon be on the prime minister’s list.

    One question is this, why cant they lower the prime rate by 1% to allow middle income people a breath of relief. That way, everyone benefits and people may remain employed.

  11. lol….so Kim the great HAI was looking good? Ole Watermelon Head?….lol…let me behave before BP kicks me off.

    I love the assistance offered but I smell a rat. The FNM is becoming more and more unpopular as a political party and I strongly feel that the BEC thing and this assistance effort is strictly to put them back in the good graces of the less intelligent people of this country.

    I remain steadfast in saying the that FNM government DOES NOT care about the people of this country.

  12. This is good. However, I believe when governments look at increasing or decreasing assistance to the public they should make these adjustments based of the real cost of living or at least close. Other than this this is just more of the same thing. Give the people a lil boost and they back to being your biggest fans.

  13. The Prime Minister and the Government should be applauded for their efforts to help the marginalized in our society in this time of economic crisis. When he read the foregoing in the H of A I was disappointed that the Opposition didn’t have the good grace to applaud the effort. Sometimes it is best to put aside our bias and recognize the good efforts of our colleagues.

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