Member of Parliament for Tobago West Shamfa Cudjoe says she will launch an investigation into a situation in which one of her staff and a member of the public became embroiled in a public dispute over food cards being distributed during the COVID-19 relief efforts.
This after the staff member allegedly replied privately and publicly to a victim seeking help. According to information in the public domain, the victim enquired, via Facebook, how to access relief.
The staff member allegedly replied: “We have a food card list of 700 and we don’t have cards to facilitate even half of those persons but I will take your information but it is not a guarantee.”
The staff member added: “If we can’t facilitate a food card, most likely you will get a hamper but if you lost your income there are other entities you can get help with.”
The staff member’s reply was widely shared on social media. However, the message did not identify which of the two Tobago MPs office was responsible for the initial note.
Shortly after, the staff member from the Tobago West office took to Facebook to share her side of the story. She identified the victim, called her dishonest and said the individual already received a food card from the Tobago House of Assembly.
“I’m annoyed, to say the least!! Every story has more than one side… This flagrant display of mendacity is so uncalled for while so many people in our nation are battling social displacement due to COVID-19,” the staff member posted.
She added: “This young lady sought me out on my PERSONAL Facebook page. I usually am very professional in and out of work, so rather than respond abruptly or not respond at all I gave her my opinion on the situation and offered to do my best to assist her in getting the help she requested.”
She also added: “Our office has been distributing its allocation of 500 cards since March 28. This young lady only submitted her name yesterday and expects to get a card right away (without verification or vetting).”
She said it was “unfortunate” that the victim “highlighted only what she wanted and screenshotted it for her own motives.”
The staff member said when she confronted the young lady about the message distributed on social media, the individual claimed her account was hacked.
The staff member said the entire situation had forced her to stop responding to work-related issues via her personal accounts.
Tobago Today reached out to Cudjoe for comment on the matter.
“I will look into the matter. I am not aware of the exact message of which you are referring but I will look into it,” Cudjoe told Tobago Today.
Tobagonians can access food cards, valued at $1,500 monthly for three months, through their MPs during the current COVID-19 Stay-at-Home measures. They can also access a one-off card valued at $500 from the Division of Health, Wellness and Family Development.
Apart from food cards, Cudjoe herself has also been distributing food hampers to needy constituents during the COVID lockdown measures.