Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 20th 2014 Contents A10
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Saturday, December 20, 2014
says more than 1,000
churches across T&T
would benefit from her
$55 million gift.
She said this in an
interview following the
distribution of cheques
to approximately 400
churches at the Diplo-
matic Centre, St Ann s,
Speaking at the
cheque distribution cer-
said she was grateful to
be in a position to give
to others and promised
churches that her Gov-
ernment would continue
to partner with them to
tackle social issues in
between 1,200 and
1,500 churches would
The churches were
chosen by MPs and up
to last Friday, all but two
MPs had sent lists. Per-
from saying which two
MPs had not respond-
ed.She reiterated that it
was insulting to imply
that her People s Part-
was attempting to "buy
out" churches but added
that Government need-
ed the help of churches
to reach communities.
receive funds, which
were being distributed
by the Ministry of the
People, according to the
size of their congrega-
Amidst rumours that government s
$55 million allocation to churches for
the Christmas season is an election
gimmick, Inter-Religious Organisation
(IRO) President Harrypersad Maharaj
has defended the allocation, saying it
is nothing new.
Maharaj said the People s Partnership
government has been allocating money
to churches every Christmas season
since they came into power.
"This is nothing new, all religious
organisations have been receiving grants
over the past years," he said.
"I don t understand how some people
can say it (allocation) is because it s an
election year. Maybe it s because the
amount was announced in a lump sum."
Maharaj admitted that members of
some organisations had spoken out,
refusing the money.
"I have dealt with people in the past
where one or two members say they
don t want the money, but when other
members of the same organisation
gratefully accept the assistance."
He said the money was used to put
together hampers for the less fortunate
in communities and also to upgrade
churches. Contacted for comment,
National Diversity minister Rodger
Samuel said he preferred to focus on
those who would take the allocation
and put it to good use, rather than those
who would decline it.
"I am tremendously happy that many
people will accept and that fills my
heart with joy as opposed to those who
will choose to decline," he said.
He said a list of churches that
declined the offer would only be avail-
able after all money had been allocated.
However, he admitted that churches
have refused the allocation in the past.
"Last year I gave a cheque to a pastor
and he refused. Even when I told him
change it and give it to the poorest
members of the congregation, he still
refused, that was last year."
However, he did say if the gesture
was intended as political, it would not
have been done the way it was.
"The PM stood up in Parliament and
asked all 41 MPs to bring a list of
churches in their constituencies. How
can that be an election gimmick?"
Archimandrite Abba Haile Mikael Hovell of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, left, thanks Prime Minister Kamla
Persad-Bissessar during the Ministry of the People and Social Development's cheque distribution ceremony
to registered churches throughout T&T at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann's, on Thursday.
PHOTO: ANDRE ALEXANDER
gimmick in $55m
National Diversity minister:
Over 1,000 churches
to benefit from fund
How funds will
with a congregation
of less than 100 will
each, while medium
churches with a
between 100 and
500 would receive
with a congregation
of 500 or more
Persad-Bissessar said between 1,200 and
1,500 churches would benefit. The churches
were chosen by MPs and up to last Friday,
all but two MPs had sent lists. Persad-
Bissessar refrained from saying which two
MP's had not responded.
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