The Ministry of Finance has denied that delays in the disbursement of salary relief grants were due to the Central Bank of T&T (CBTT).
In a press release issued yesterday in response to an allegedly misleading article published in another daily newspaper, the ministry noted that the Central Bank was not involved in the processing or disbursement of the $1,500 grant offered by the Government to low income citizens, whose were seriously affected by ongoing COVID-19 measures.
“The CBTT plays no role whatsoever in the disbursement of funds from the Treasury to commercial banks to these grant payments…The Salary Relief Grant is administered by the Ministry of Finance,” it stated.
In the release, the ministry noted that since the granted were announced on March 24, the ministry had received approximately 30,300 applications from citizens. Of the applications, 18,758 were submitted via email, while 11,452 physical copies, which were made available at all police stations across T&T, were submitted via TTPost.
Speaking in Parliament on Monday, Finance Minister Colm Imbert revealed that the first 1,000 grants would be processed and distributed by Wednesday.
Imbert also noted that the ministry was increasing its processing capacity, so that 10,000 grants could be processed weekly.
In the release, the ministry noted it had already authorised at least an additional 1,000 grants.
In total, the ministry is estimated to distribute almost $400 million in such grants during the period.
When a news team from Guardian Media visited a Port-of-Spain office of the Ministry of Social Development and Family Services to see how applications for rental assistance grants and temporary food cards were being submitted, there was a queue with about a two dozen persons snaking around the building. Those in the line
Several persons interviewed on the condition of anonymity claimed that they had waited over an hour and a half before being allowed to enter.
A few persons, who claimed that they were not there for the grants being afforded due to the COVID-19 pandemic but rather to apply for pensions, also complained over the long wait caused by the commingling of customers.
“They really should have two lines outside as I am seeing that there are no persons in the line for pensions inside,” one man said, as he peeked through the glass door while his wife held their place in the line.