By Sue-Ann Wayow
ONE of the reasons why the People’s National Movement (PNM) won the general election last year was because it unfairly distributed food cards to thousands in key marginal areas.
This was the claim being made by United National Congress (UNC) Political Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar who during the UNC’s Monday night forum gave details of the food card distribution for the financial year 2019 and 2020.
She read from a letter she said was dated March 2, 2021 from the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Social Development.
She said, “In fiscal year 2019, there were 33,705 persons on the food card programme, out of that only 4,654 persons were on temporary food cards. This cost the taxpayers $159 million.”
Persad-Bissessar said in fiscal year 2020, Covid-19 pandemic, the Government kept 28,380 persons on the permanent food card, similar to 2019. But the number of temporary food cards went up from 4,654 in 2019 to 79,034 in 2020, she said.
“It costs the taxpayers $271 million. These temporary food cards are not regular food cards valued at $510, $650 or $800, these food cards are valued at $1530,” she said.
While she was happy for those who received additional support, the questions were raised in the distribution process as with the number of Community-based Environmental Protection and Enhancement Programme (CEPEP) teams allocated to constituencies.
She listed out constituencies highlighting the marginal seats.
Persad-Bissessar said, “They pumped resources into those seats such as La Horquetta/Talparo, Moruga/Tableland, San Fernando West and Toco/Sangre Grande as they were afraid to lose those seats. Toco/Sangre Grande has the highest number of teams because they lost the regional corporation in the 2019 local government elections. San Fernando West has one of the smallest geographical spaces and has the second highest number of CEPEP teams in the country.”
The Opposition Leader said she will continue to bring forward motions of no confidence against key ministers who have failed in delivering on their promises to the people especially Finance Minister Colm Imbert as the economy continues to crash.
And she wished the Baptist community greetings as they celebrate Spiritual Baptist Liberation Day on Tuesday and also the Christian community as it prepared for Easter.