Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 4th 2015 Contents A5
Thursday, June 4, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
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Mothers are the main offenders
in child abuse and neglect cases,
according to the director at the
Children s Authority Sharifa Ali-
Ali-Abdullah was speaking at
the launch of the authority s
Assessment Centre at the Eric
Williams Medical Sciences Com-
plex, Mt Hope, yesterday.
She said the information was
determined by the calls received
in the past two weeks.
"The most disturbing trend we
have seen so far is that mothers
appear to be the people responsible
for abuse and neglect.
"When we look further, the pic-
ture gets worse with 61 per cent
of mothers being identified as the
person for neglect and physical
abuse," she added.
Ali-Abdullah said while the data
was "disturbing, it is not surpris-
ing, giving our family structures
and our cultural attitudes about
raising children. It really cries out
for support to our women."
She added: "If we do not look
for an holistic solution these
women are going to be charged
and what will happen to the chil-
dren. The numbers are increasing
by the hour."
She said within the first two
weeks of the operation of the cen-
tre there have been "over 524 calls
(on child abuse), 248 cases and we
would have actioned (dealt with)
127 cases already."
Ali-Abdullah said the problem
was "very acute" and "more than
half of the cases being determined
The statistics show significantly
more girls were being abused than
Among the areas with a high
incidence of child abuse, she said,
were Sangre Grande,
Tunapuna/Piarco and Arima.
Ali-Abdullah said child neglect
and physical abuse were major
concerns. She indicated that such
cases were higher than sexual
She said surveys indicated there
was a link between the occurrence
of child abuse and poverty levels.
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-
Bissessar, who officially opened
the centre, called on the authority
to do further studies to get empir-
ical data about the claim that
mothers were the ones who were
abusing children in the homes.
"That may be qualitative data
rather than quantitative data.
Therefore you would want to drill
down to get really empirical data
to say that is correct," she added.
She said under the existing cir-
cumstances the first person with
whom a child would identify was
the mother. "Consequently, if any-
thing goes wrong, it is mother (to
blame). That may not necessarily
be the case in reality," she noted.
Persad-Bissessar said she would
be happy to see the detailed results
of a more comprehensive assess-
ment of the data.
She also said Cabinet yesterday
agreed to the construction of an
autism support centre in T&T.
Some initial funding from Govern-
ment s $100 million budget for the
Baby Care Grant as well from
Caribbean Airlines Ltd will be trans-
ferred to pay increased salaries to pub-
lic servants, Finance Minister Larry
Howai confirmed yesterday.
The grant provides low income earn-
ers with $500 to help offset costs of
supplies for newborns.
Howai announced the changes during
yesterday s sitting of Parliament s
Standing Finance Committee (SFC)
which proposed variation of the 2015
Budget by decreasing and increasing
funding to 35 ministries and state agen-
Funding in four ministries, ranging
from $1.4 billion (in the Finance Min-
istry) to $20 million (Social Develop-
ment ) is being decreased while funding
is being increased in 31 state
These include National Security,
Tobago House of Assembly, the Elec-
tions and Boundaries Commission and
the Judiciary. (see box).
Chaguanas West MP Jack Warner
was the sole Opposition MP to scru-
tinise Government s variation thrust
and questioned Government on the
decreases and increases since the Oppo-
sition People s National Movement con-
tinued its boycott of Parliament.
Howai, replying to Warner s ques-
tions, said funding to the Social Devel-
opment Ministry was decreased by $68
million from $120 million. Warner asked
if the 50 per cent decrease was due to
an over-budgeted Baby Grant Pro-
Howai said the original budget for
that was done using an estimate based
on the total number of newborns.
He said the ministry subsequently
determined a more precise number of
people to be affected by the programme
and based that on a monthly income
of $3,500. Those qualifying on that
basis would benefit.
Howai said that reduced the number
of people using the Baby Grant benefit.
Also contributing to reducing the min-
istry s funding was implementation of
the Smart Card. As result of both mat-
ters, Howai said the difference could
be transferred to pay public servants.
Social Development Minister Chris-
tine Newallo-Hosein said mechanisms
were in place --- via social workers and
a team involving personnel from various
ministries --- to monitor the Baby Grant
Howai said Caribbean Airlines had
benefitted from the oil fuel price drop
and therefore less money was needed
for CAL, allowing Government a further
$150 million to utilise towards paying
He said CAL accounts (2013 onwards)
would be brought up to date in three
months and audits were being out-
sourced. He said he was pleased with
CAL s progress, given the state of its
accounts a few years ago.
Howai said Government was able to
balance expenditure so that in the first
half of the year, there was a surplus of
$47 million from reducing expenditure
by $5.8 billion so far. He assured expen-
diture reduction did not involve halting
payments. Howai said Government was
on course toward a year-end deficit of
2.12 per cent of GDP, via variation of
funding and keeping fiscal accounts in
Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine
explained decreases to his ministry
resulted from the oil price drop and
corresponding fuel subsidy drop in 2015.
He said in March the fuel subsidy lia-
bility was $912 million, a 45 per cent
decrease over last year s.
After completion of about half of the
items, discussions were suspended
around 1.49 pm to make way for start
of the House of Representatives sitting
at 2 pm and the Standing Finance Com-
mittee was scheduled to resume dis-
cussions last evening on increases for
19 state agencies and ministries includ-
ing National Security.
Govt will cut Baby Care
$$ to pay public servants
Startling statistics show:
Students of the St Joseph TML School and St Joseph Government Primary School assist Prime Minister
Kamla Persad-Bissessar in cutting the ribbon to open officially the Children's Authority Assessment Centre at
the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex, Mt Hope, yesterday. Also in photo, from left, are Health Minister
Dr Fuad Khan, chairman of the board of management of the Children's Authority Stephanie Daly, SC, director
of the authority Sharifa Ali-Abdullah and Minister of Gender, Youth and Child Development Clifton De Coteau.
PHOTO: ANDRE ALEXANDER
Finance Ministry: $1.4 billion.
Energy/Energy Enterprises: $693.8
Ministry of the People/Social
Development: $68 million.
Science/Technology: $20 million.
Auditor General: $13.4 million.
Judiciary: $73.7 million.
Industrial Court: $1.8 million.
Parliament: $11.2 million.
Service Commissions: $16.3 million.
Statutory Authorities Service
Commission: $1.7 million.
Elections and Boundaries
Commission: $11 million.
Tax Appeal Board: $450,000.
Registration, Recognition and
Certification Board: $1 million.
Public Service Appeal Board: $617,140.
Office of the Prime Minister: $15.2
Tobago House of Assembly: $110
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