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THA official: No board, no public assistance in Tobago
No applications for senior citizens, public assistance or disability grants have been reviewed for payment by the Department of Social Services of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) since January 17, says secretary of Health and Social Services, Assemblyman Claudia Groome-Duke. She said in an interview on Wednesday that no Tobago Local Public Assistance Board had been in place since then to review the applications. Groome-Duke said according to the records of the department up to June 30, there were over 112 applications to be reviewed by the board, among them were 62 for the senior citizens grant, 28 for the public assistance grant and 20 for the disability grant.
As a result, she said, she was surprised to hear the Minister of the People and Social Development Glenn Ramadharsingh speaking of 174 new applicants for the year receiving public assistance in Tobago. “If this is so we want to know when the applications were reviewed and payment approved and by whom, because the chairman of the board should be the THA Director of Social Services, and that person did not chair any meeting to approve applications for payment,” Groome-Duke added. She said until a board was in place the Tobago clientele would be at a serious disadvantage.
Groome-Duke said in reviewing the state boards it was hoped that the Prime Minister would take into consideration the Tobago situation in relation to the Local Public Assistance Board, whose members have been appointed for the past 30 years on the recommendation of the THA. She explained that board members were appointed according to geographical areas so that they would know the applicants. Approval of applications for the benefits to the aged came to a standstill in January after the THA’s nominations to the board and other recommendations were rejected.
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