CENTRAL PINES, Abaco — Officials at the Ministry of Social Services and Community Development and the Department of Social Services are on target to meet their self-imposed deadline of ensuring that qualified clients of their Food Assistance Programme throughout The Commonwealth of The Bahamas are in receipt of, and benefiting from, the use of their Visa Pre-Paid Cards by the end of June, 2016.
This follows a guarantee by Minister of Social Services and Community Development, the Hon. Melanie Sharon Griffin in the House of Assembly two weeks ago, that the qualified clients would receive their cards on time.
(Minister Griffin led a delegation of senior officials of the Department of Social Services and the Bank of The Bahamas to Abaco Monday (June 27) to distribute Pre-Paid cards to qualified recipients in North, Central and South Abaco).
The Cards, which were expected to go “Live” as of Tuesday, June 28, were simultaneous distributed to qualified recipients in South Andros, Mangrove Cay, Bimini, North, Central and South Eleuthera, Harbour Island, Exuma and its Cays, Inagua, Long Island, and San Salvador.
Hundreds of food assistance recipients throughout the archipelago will join the ranks of persons using the Pre-Paid Cards as of Tuesday, June 28. Three hundred and twenty qualified recipients in Abaco received their Pre-Paid Cards Monday.
Mrs. Griffin said the unavailability of pertinent information of some clients during the assessments, may hold up some of the assessments.
“However, those approved after the assessments will be able to receive their Pre-Paid Cards at the end of July,” Mrs. Griffin said.
Recipients in islands affected by Hurricane Joaquin will not be able to come on stream until after the restoration process has been completed in those areas and stores have returned to normalcy.
“I indicated during the recent budget exercise that by the end of June, 2016, most of our Family Islands would be using this modern payment system (and) I can report to you in Abaco this morning, that over the course of the last few days, the distribution of cards has been ongoing to qualified recipients,” Mrs. Griffin said during a presentation ceremony held at the Central Abaco Primary School in Central Pines.
“The implementation of the card requires that all current recipients of the Food Assistance Programme be reassessed – many of whom have already gone through that process.
“We have chosen Abaco to mark the historic occasion of the implementation of the Pre-Paid Cards in the majority of our Family Islands. The Cards will go Live as of tomorrow morning (Tuesday, June 28) and every Government payday thereafter.”
The Cards can be used at recognised stores that accept Visa Pre-Paid Cards and have Point-of-Sales Machines throughout The Commonwealth of The Bahamas. Minister Griffin, however, encouraged the recipients to utilise the Cards at recognised stores that accept Visa Pre-Paid Cards and have Point-of-Sales Machines in their various communities to ensure the domino effect of providing an economic boost to those local economies.
“The Ministry of Social Services and Community Development has a mandate to assist persons who are in need of the basic necessities, namely food assistance throughout The Bahamas and to ensure that Family Island residents and food store owners benefit from having access to this modern payment system – the same as residents in New Providence and Grand Bahama. So please feel free to go to any store that accepts Visa Cards or has a Point of Sales Machine to purchase your groceries.
“We are all a part of The Bahamas and there is no reason why we should be New Providence-centric,” Mrs. Griffin continued. “The work of Social Services and the work of the Government must cover all of the islands of The Bahamas and that is why we are happy to be bringing these cards to our Family Islands.
“No longer will you have to go to the Department of Social Services every month for a food coupon. No longer will you have to pick up all of your grocery one time. You now have the flexibility to purchase your groceries and manage them better during the course of the month, however, you decide to purchase your groceries,” Mrs. Griffin added.