Social Development Minister: Scrap iron dealers eligible for food grants

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

In this file photo, scrap iron dealers protest the six-month ban on the export of scrap metal at Claxton Bay. – Marvin Hamilton

THE Social Development and Family Services Donna Cox has rejected claims made by Chaguanas East MP Vandana Mohit that people displaced by the ban on export of scrap iron were ineligible for state grants.

On Thursday, Mohit slammed Cox for saying workers affected by Government’s decision to ban scrap-iron exports for six months could apply to her ministry for grants.

“Again, the PNM government embarks on deceit and aims to hoodwink the population by their and her public pronouncements.”

Mohit claimed none of the people affected by the industry’s six-month closure would be “eligible for the grants.” She said any such assistance would not come in time before the re-opening of school next month.

“The government must immediately develop a mechanism to assist struggling families affected by this unwarranted closure, in order to school and feed their children.”

In a second statement, also issued on Thursday, Mohit wondered if Cox was trying to find scapegoats when she spoke about a “parenting crisis” at the recent launch of her ministry’s parenting workshop. Scrap iron dealers in the Claxton Bay district have been blocking roads and burning debris calling for the government to rescind its decision. The Scrap Iron Dealers’ Association have also been objecting to the decision and has threatened to go to court.

Responding to Mohit’s claims on Saturday, Cox said, “Scrap iron dealers can apply for any of the grants once they are eligible.”

Any member of the member of the public can apply for the grants offered by the ministry.

“The Ministry has the responsibility to plan and determine the adequacy of its allocation each year. It is for this reason that Ministry approached the Parliament for an additional allocation, at mid-year and received this additional allocation to meet its projected expenditure in fiscal 2022.”

Cox said, “The Food Support Grant is offered to all eligible citizens and legal residents of TT. Scrap iron dealers in need of food can apply in the event that they are in need of food.”

Applicants must pass the standard means test to qualify for this grant.

The qualifying criteria include the applicants being citizens or legal residents of TT and passing a standard means test to show the net income for the household must be equal to or less than the household poverty line which is $1,439.

Rejecting Mohit’s claims about Government being responsible for a parenting crisis in TT, Cox said, “There is empirical evidence since 2011 which support the need for parenting programmes in TT. Since 2014, she said the government has been hosting parenting workshops throughout TT.

Cox reminded Mohit that “the development of the parenting policy identifying parenting and parenting support as a critical element of family life, forms the basis of the draft parenting policy of 2014.”

That work in 2014 was incorporated into government policy under the PNM and laid as a green paper in Parliament in 2017.

“The data regarding children gravitating to a life of crime can be sourced from the police service and the Children Court. “