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McKenzie to clamp down on abuse of poor relief funds

Published:Friday | April 28, 2017 | 12:00 AMChristopher Thomas
Minister of Local Government Desmond McKenzie.


Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie says his ministry will be taking steps to address the issue of persons who are not legitimate beneficiaries of poor relief funds collecting monies instead of the genuinely needy.

While giving the keynote address at this week's special sitting of the Trelawny Municipal Corporation, McKenzie drew reference to a statement by Shahine Robinson, the labour and social security minister, in which she said funds for social programmes were being collected by persons who falsely claim to be acting on behalf of others.

"Minister Shahine Robinson spoke in Parliament about the challenges that persons who are on the social programmes are experiencing, where money is being collected in their names and they are not benefiting from those funds," said McKenzie. "It is happening with the poor-relief assistance, where people are turning up; with Mary representing Tom, because those persons are indisposed ... It is being abused by those persons who don't need it."


Meeting with poor-relief officers


As a response to the situation, McKenzie said that he will be meeting next week with the poor relief officers from the various municipal corporations to discuss ways of ensuring that the poor relief money will go to those to whom it was intended to benefit.

"I am going to be calling the poor relief officers into St Elizabeth next week for a special meeting to deal with the matter, and I want to give you the assurance that we are not going to allow this practice to continue," McKenzie said.

"I am going to be issuing instructions, commencing next week, that we stop the payments of poor relief doles (benefits) across the country and examine carefully the system under which these payments are being made. It is not fair that persons who are strong and hearty can be depriving these people of the small chicken feed that the Government provides on a monthly or weekly basis."

The Poor Relief Department of the country's municipal corporations is responsible for providing assistance to the poor and destitute in each parish. It is funded by a grant provided from the central government.