Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 7th 2014 Contents A6
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The Future of Book Selling
The Minister in Ministry of the People
and Social Development has dismissed
Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley s claim
that the ministry s Rise Up programme
budget is to be increased to $3 billion.
Vernella Alleyne-Toppin was speaking at
the ministry s Social Policy Forum yesterday
at the Hyatt Regency, Port-of-Spain.
At a media conference at Parliament on
Monday. Rowley claimed the Government
intended to use the programme as an election
tool in the coming year.
He said the name of the programme was
similar to the People s Partnership 2010
slogan We will rise.
"The ministry did not allocate $3 billion
to Rise Up. The ministry s entire budget for
the year was $3.4 billion, so that would not
have been possible," Alleyne-Toppin said.
She said the programme, which had been
adopted by Barbados, St Lucia and Jamaica,
had been in T&T since 2006.
"Since 2010 we have augmented and
enhanced the programme," Alleyne-Toppin
The Rise Up (Rights of Individuals to Social
and Economic Security, Universal Prosperity)
programme is a component of the food card
programme, which provides developmental
support to those most in need in terms of
health, income, housing, education, safety
and security, family dynamics and employ-
Alleyne-Toppin accused Rowley of politi-
cising the programme.
"This is a programme that has been in
effect in our ministry since 2006. It is some-
thing that we have been using for poverty
alleviation and it is bearing fruit. We have
graduated many people out of our projects
and we will continue to help people.
"It has nothing to do at all with any elec-
She said the programme was a transfor-
mation of another programme initiated by
the People s National Movement called Step
"Should I then say that the PNM, that
was there before us, put Step Up in to win
the 2010 elections? I cannot say that. Obvi-
ously, if that was a strategy of theirs, it did
not work, they did not win the 2010 elec-
Alleyne-Toppin did not reveal the actual
budget for the programme, but said this
would be divulged by the Prime Minister in
Parliament on Monday.
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Rise Up no political tool---Vernella
In a release on Tuesday Communications Minister
Vasant Bharath said Rowley's "penchant for fabrication"
had inadvertently helped to reveal the PNM's failure
with the Targeted Conditional Cash Transfer pro-
"Had Dr Rowley properly researched the history of the
programme, he would have realised that it was in his
best interest to say nothing, as it was under his govern-
ment the programme was seriously abused, and it is the
Kamla Persad-Bissessar administration that cleaned up
the programme," Bharath said.
He noted that in 2010 a report of the Auditor General
found the ministry was not reaching acceptable num-
bers of poor and vulnerable people quickly enough.
"It was for this reason that the Persad-Bissessar ad-
ministration comprehensively reviewed and cleaned up
the programme and launched the TT Card in 2011. Fol-
lowing that, the Rights to Individuals to Social and Eco-
nomic Security, Universal Prosperity ('Rise Up')
programme was launched to improve the benefits to the
vulnerable, by providing training for card-recipients to
empower them to earn their own incomes."
He said the programme was a success, as in 2012,
5,250 temporary food cards had been distributed to the
"If changing a programme from one that bred depend-
ency into an inclusive programme that guides people to
greater independence is what Dr Rowley refers to as a
corrupt use of the programme, then what he is saying is
that he prefers that the poor be kept dependent on the
state, rather than be empowered to build their own
lives," the minister said.
Bharath dismissed Rowley's allegations on the ap-
pointment of Christine Newallo-Hosein as an adviser to
the minister, saying: "The memo dated May 9 2014,
from the Prime Minister to Mr Simeon Yearwood, Per-
manent Secretary of the Ministry of the People and So-
cial Development stated that an adviser to the minister
is to be appointed and is completely in keeping with al-
lowances for personal support staff positions to a minis-
Minister in the Ministry of the People and Social Development, Vernella Alleyne Toppin,
second from left, with participants during yesterday's social policy forum at the Hyatt
Regency, Port-of-Spain. PHOTO: MARYANN AUGUSTE
IT WAS A PNM PROGRAMME
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