‘It doesn’t matter how big or small you are, we’re going to come after you’ – Minister Lawrence warns
Delinquent parents who neglect their children will this year be under close scrutiny by the Social Protection Ministry, especially fathers who fail to provide financial support to their offspring.
Social Protection Minister Volda Lawrence sounded this warning during her address to members of the newly-appointed East Bank Local Board of Guardians.
She pointed out during her address that many absent fathers have left the State to provide for their children.
“Everyone will face the consequence – the law. The State cannot be burdened when a parent or parents have the means of taking care of their children and they choose not to do so. It doesn’t matter how big or small you are, we’re going to come after you,” she was quoted as saying in a report in today’s Guyana Times.
Minister Lawrence observed that there were many instances where women were afraid to seek financial support owing to the “abusive behaviour” of some men.
The Minister emphasised that there were genuine cases where parents were unable to provide for their children, and further noted that the Ministry was prepared to support those families. She, however, cautioned that it was “unfair to use taxpayers’ money to support children whose parents can afford to take care of them”.
According to Lawrence, there are some cases of the “dependency syndrome” whereby people are reluctant to seek alternative sources of income. She posited that this year would see the Ministry taking a different approach to social protection.
“We will teach people to help themselves…We’re going to work to ensure that this is the last year for Public Assistance. We are working to introduce conditional cash transfer. In that way, we focus on the family. The objective is to bring people out of poverty. When persons come into any agency/department of the Ministry, a comprehensive evaluation will be done to see how the family is lacking and we will support that family in those areas. We believe that Public Assistance doesn’t capture the family, but the conditional cash transfer will,” Lawrence said.
She pointed out that “everybody has potential”, but admitted that there was a lack of opportunities. The Minister urged the Board to work along with religious leaders in the communities to further support families.
The East Bank Local Board of Guardians is one of the groups that have been installed across the country effective February 1, 2016 to process Public Assistance applications.
“Public Assistance is a form of temporary financial assistance issued by the Government of Guyana to specific persons, including the aged, infirmed, sick, destitute and children below the age of 14,” the Ministry said in a statement on Thursday.
It was also noted that each monthly Public Assistance voucher is valued $6500. The Boards are responsible for evaluating and determining the legitimacy of Public Assistance applications in rural areas to ensure that taxpayers’ dollars are justifiably spent.
The members of the East Bank Board are Roderick Edinboro, Alma Francois-Bovell, Fannett Brandford, Loraine Stephens, Mark Braithwaite, and Deryck Boyce.