Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 1st 2013 Contents A6
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt September 1, 2013
Minister of the People Dr Glenn Ramad-
harsingh has launched an investigation into
allegations of a TT food card racket at his
Ramadharsingh ordered the investigation
after Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar
expressed concern about claims by Independ-
ent Liberal Party (ILP) interim leader Jack
Warner that some cards were being used to
purchase food items for weddings and river
There are 40,000 permanent and 2,000
temporary card holders in the programme.
The ministry gives out $410, $550 and $700
cards to families in distress and MPs can also
access 50 temporary cards a month.
"If in fact those things had occurred I would
like to see the information for it. The only
time that came to my attention is when I saw
the allegations being made. No one seems to
have any information on that...not even cor-
respondence to that effect," Ramadharsingh
told the Sunday Guardian.
Since the allegations , Ramadharsingh said
the department has been even more cautious.
"Everyone knows they have to be very care-
ful in the way they dispense public funds,"
He promised to take action if any of his
174 food card officers and regional coordi-
nators demonstrate errant behaviour.
In the last 30 months, four employees of
the TT card department have been fired for
different reasons. One employee was sacked
shortly after Ramadharsingh was appointed
minister, while three others were sent home
Approximately 2,000 families who depend-
ed on the food cards voluntarily returned
their cards after improving their standard of
living by finding sustainable jobs, Ramad-
He said 40,000 food card holders is "a
reasonable figure" in a population of 1.3 mil-
Ramadharsingh said if there are instances
of people not deserving of the cards "we treat
"People do give false information," he said.
Some say they are unemployed and parents
of several children, but when food card officers
visit their homes, they see otherwise, Ramad-
Ramadharsingh said 6,000 cards were
pulled from the system over the last three
years---4,000 in 2010 which were issued under
the PNM and 2,000 in the last 30 months
under the PP Government.
RHONDA KRYSTAL RAMBALLY
Can t read? Having difficulty reading?
Why not change that and join the The Adult Lit-
eracy Tutors Association (Alta).
Alta, now in its 21st year, is registering people 16
and over on September 3 and 4 at public libraries
across the country. Students can start at the Beginner
level, Level I, Level II or Level III. Classes run from
September to July.
"Now is the time," founder Paula Lucie-Smith
urged. "Don t put it off."
She said if people did not get their reading and
writing in order, things will become more difficult.
She said the classroom environment is co-operative
and family-oriented. Lucie-Smith, a former Social
Studies teacher at a senior comprehensive school,
founded Alta in 1992 because she was alarmed at
the number of students who couldn t read the text
She said, "What we have built is a different class-
"Generally, education is based on competition and
what we have in Alta is education based on co-oper-
ation and that starts with teachers."
Alta has 50 centres throughout the country and
registration is free but participants pay a small fee
of $20 for course material.
Alta does not have a motto but she said its aim
was to teach adults how to read and write.
"I think our philosophy is one that talks about
working together to achieve goals and giving each
person respect," Lucie-Smith said.
Last September there was an intake of just over
2,000 students which included returning students.
Alta has more than 300 active tutors who give of
their time voluntarily. Volunteers are interviewed and
follow a step by step process to be part of the teaching
programme. They need to commit two hours twice
a week for at least a year.
Lucie-Smith said, "I think literacy is a life-changing
skill and I am in this because I cannot imagine my
life without reading."
"The world we live in is not kind to people that
don t read in terms of the stigma associated with it
which I don t think should be there because reading
is a skill and like any skill, some of us are good at
it and some of us are not.
"And for those who are not good at it, what we
have to do is help you to acquire the skill and not
say what s wrong with you."
Minister orders food card probe
Members of Woodbrook-based Brimblers in the spotlight at BP Renegades' Single Pan music showcase at the band's Charlotte Street,
Port-of-Spain, headquarters on Friday night. PHOTO: SEAN NERO
start this week
84 Belmont Circular
3rd Floor, St Paul's
Anglican Church Hall
12 Harris Promenade, San
FOR THE LOVE OF PAN
Religious organisations have to play a
greater role in creating stability in society,
Minister of Local Government Suruj Ram-
bachan said yesterday.
Rambachan, who gave the feature address
at the Chaguanas Borough Corporation s
Independence celebrations at the Saith
Park, Chaguanas, said a greater sense of
community and citizenship is needed to
overcome the many challenges facing T&T.
"The matter of crime is not just a matter
for the intervention of the government and
security forces. I believe in the coming years
the NGOs, CBOs and religious institutions
will be called upon to play a greater role
in eradicating and defeating crime in our
society," he said.
The minister said religious institutions
should be supported by the state to develop
their abilities in the "fight to raise moral
and ethical standards." He said state and
religious institutions need to develop a
greater working relationship for the devel-
opment of human values and parents have
greater roles to play in instilling human
Rambachan said in his role as Tabaquite
MP, he has seen many single mothers strug-
gling to provide for their children while
fathers remain absent. He said the time has
come for fathers to get their acts together
because "too many children are suffering."
He said the time has also come for every-
one to take a greater level of responsibility
for their personal well being. He said cit-
izens must empower themselves econom-
ically and become entrepreneurs. Ram-
bachan said there are many institutions
willing to assist people to become entre-
President Anthony Carmona yesterday
said the authorities should consider an
insurance scheme for fire officers.
The President suggested $1 million on
each officer s life to care for his family if
he dies in "action." He also put forward
the idea that the spouse should receive up
to two years salary "until she catches her-
self" and the children receive a dependency
allowance until age 18.
Carmona said awarding plaques for
recognition of service had to be a thing of
He said as a young boy growing up in
Fyzabad he always had an admiration for
fire officers because they saved houses in
He said fire officers had become unsung
heroes in society and sometimes in that
regard may feel marginalised, isolated and
may feel a sense of under appreciation.
"But rest assured, even though there
may not be public salutations about your
conduct, about your efficiency and the fact
that you have saved homes and lives, this
Republic of ours is extremely proud and
very appreciative of your accomplishments."
Carmona wants insurance for firefighters
Rambachan: Religion must play bigger role
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