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Acting CEO of Udecott Tamica Charles Phillips, left, Minister of Sports and Youth Affair Shamfa Cudjoe and Minister of Social Development and Family Services Camille Robinson Regis turns the sod for the Maloney Community Swimming Pool in Maloney yesterday.

BAVITA GOPAULCHAN

Several religious bodies have already approached the Government for the second tranche of funds to provide support to needy families and migrants hit hard by the COVID-19 restrictions, Minister of Social Development and Family Services Camille Robinson-Regis said yesterday.

Robinson-Regis also said the ministry has not had any issues with the religious organisations distributing taxpayer funds, noting they were all holding true to the values that they teach.

“It has been going well and all, if not most, of the religious bodies or umbrella bodies have been funded for this month and they have started bringing in their returns so that we can give them the second tranche,” Robinson-Regis said after turning the sod ceremony for a community pool in Maloney.

At the beginning of last month, Government began distributing $10 million in grants to 14 denominational boards to provide relief to needy people hit hard by the COVID measures in place since March.

However, while the faith-based entities have been honest, Robinson-Regis indicated that there are citizens who have been applying for other Government grants and using false information to con the way to relief funds.

“With regard to the income grant we have paid over 20,000 persons and with regard to the rental assistance, we have had some delays because we have had several people trying to defraud the Government and we are not going to allow that to happen because that is taxpayers’ money,” she said.

Despite the setback, Robinson-Regis said the ministry continues to process the rent relief grant applications.

“We have got in the region of 3,000 requests and we are paying and processing about 2,000 at this time,” she added.

However, Robinson-Regis stated that as far as she knows, no applicant has been charged for trying to defraud the state. However, she said the ministry has handed over evidence to the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service.

During the sod-turning earlier, Robinson-Regis called a community pool in Maloney “a red-letter day.” The Member of Parliament for Arouca-Maloney, she recalled having her proposal for the community pool rejected in 1996.

The 24-foot facility, which will be constructed next to the Maloney Police Station, is expected to be completed within 10 months and will cost approximately $8 million, she said.

Robinson-Regis said she hopes this will not only bring a facelift to the community but will encourage young people to live a life away from crime.

“For many years the community’s reputation was hamstrung by rivalry and competition for turf amongst those whose ways of life then clashed with the peaceful Maloney we know today,” Robinson-Regis told the gathering.

She added, “But while this stigma is slowly but surely disappearing, one way in which we have been able to restore some semblance of order and legitimacy to the community was through the introduction of community activities, whether through the regional complex, sporting complex or the library.”

National swimmer Akiel Joseph and soca star Akeem ‘Preedy’ Chance, who are both from Maloney, attended yesterday’s ceremony.