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Trinidad to provide for economic victims of coronavirus

New measures have been announced by the government of Trinidad and Tobago to help that society’s most vulnerable in the wake of the COVID-19 virus.

An aerial view of Port of Spain Trinidad and Tobago. (Photo: london.ac.uk)

The Government will provide financial support to people who are retrenched or terminated as a result of the COVI-19 pandemic. This support will come in the form of public assistance grants and is one of a number of measures presented by Social Development Minister Camille Robinson-Regis.

Robinson- Regis, who chaired a social support and job preservation committee on COVID-19, made the announcement, as she addressed a post-cabinet media briefing yesterday afternoon, March 18. She unveiled several measures to aid those considered vulnerable to the virus’ secondary effects.

“To ensure that the nutritional needs of those children are maintained as these children will not be at school and we must ensure that our children are well taken care of .”

– Robinson- Regis

As part of the slew of measures, food card recipients are to receive additional funds for a period of three months in conjunction with the size of their households. Those who reside in a household of three persons will receive $150 in addition to their existing food grants. In households of four to five persons will receive $300 in additional funds and those in households containing six persons or more will receive 600.

Persons who are recipients of the public assistance and disability grants will also receive an added $150 to the monthly grants for a period of three months. Households that receive disability grants for two persons will receive $300 extra. Further, $450 will be given to households receiving this grant with three affected persons.

Robinson- Regis said public assistance grants will be provided to those affected.

Those who receive grants for more than four persons will receive $500 extra.Children affected by the lapse in the school feeding programme due to the prolonged closure of schools will be added to the list of food card recipients in the country.

The measure was described by Robinson-Regis as a means of ensuring the good health of the nation’s children. The minister indicated that these changes were meant to help those affected by a temporary reduction in income or face unemployment due to virus containment efforts such as the recently announced closure of bars.

Finance Minister Colm Imbert (Photo: newsday.com)

“To ensure that the nutritional needs of those children are maintained as these children will not be at school and we must ensure that our children are well taken care of,” the minister explained. Robinson-Regis added that retrenched workers will be eligible to receive income support for three months under the public assistance grants.

In cases where the main income earner of a family is unemployed or suffers a reduction in salary, those under 18 in the household will be considered necessitous allowing for the grant to be extended. She also said that the development of policy to provide rental assistance to families in need was being done by the ministry.

The minister noted that subsistence grants would be issued to local NGOs who deal with the socially displaced in light of the virus. The cost of these measures was not yet quantified, according to Finance Minister, Colm Imbert but estimated to be less that TT $100-million