Over 8,000 residents from Region One (Barima-Waini) were the first to benefit from the $25,000 per household COVID-19 relief cash grant announced by President Dr. Irfaan Ali earlier this month.
Just one day prior to the laying of the Emergency Budget 2020 in the National Assembly, the President indicated that the grant was one of several measures designed to support households grappling with the effects of the pandemic.
The project was officially launched by Minister of Housing and Water, Collin Croal on Monday in Khan Hill.
The Minister, who also holds Parliamentary responsibility for Region One, said the initiative demonstrates the Government’s commitment to the people.
“Our President, when he addressed the nation, he spoke about ensuring the lives of our citizens are taken care of, and this is one such exercise,” Minister Croal said.
He expects that the grant will ease some of the hardships that hinterland residents are facing following the halt on mining and other activities during the pandemic. The Minster also gave assurances that the distribution would be done fairly.
Residents expressed their gratitude to the Government for the initiative.
In an invited comment to the Department of Public Information, Mr. Remel Santiago said he was pleased to receive his package.
“We heard about this and I’m so happy for our new President of this country, for this budget, so that people across this country who need a ‘little thing’ at this moment can get it. I will try my best to get something with this for my home, because it is important,” he said.
Another resident of Khan Hill, Ms. Sharmaine Smith said the grant will be an addition to provisions made by Government to help her secure online education for her daughter. “It could help me to buy credit for my [daughter] to help her with her school work [and] buy some things to use in the home that they need,” she said.
Meanwhile, distribution in the Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo (Region Nine), was initiated by Natural Resources Minister, Vickram Bharrat on Monday.
The Minister said the exercise is a good start to revitalise the economy.
“You will have $200 million by the end of October circulating in this region. That is a significant boost to your economy in Region Nine. We will continue to ensure that we put money into people’s pockets,” Minister Bharrat said.
Distribution will be done in other far-flung areas including Regions Seven and Eight.
This is not the Government’s first COVID-19 assistance programme to help citizens countrywide since taking office in August. A number of hampers were distributed to vulnerable communities last month.