The Ministry of Social Development and Family Services (MSDFS) said it is ready to support the Government’s plans to revitalize and reset the economy through a multifaceted, wide-ranging and responsive social safety net.
These comments follow the presentation of the budget by Finance Minister Colm Imbert on Monday.
The theme for this year’s budget presentation was Resetting the Economy for Growth and Innovation, and in keeping with this year’s budget theme, the areas of empowerment and resilience will be among the most critical on the agenda for recovery and sustainability, said the Ministry.
According to a release, the MSDFS will continue to maintain the human-centred approach in the delivery of its social services, with continued payments of all grants, inclusive of public assistance, senior citizens pension, and disability assistance.
“The COVID-19 experience has resulted in an expansion of the safety-net offerings, and as such, the implementation of the National Social Mitigation Plan will be top priority in the Ministry’s stream of work during this fiscal period.”
The Ministry also intends to strengthen and improve the mechanisms associated with social services delivery, which will be done through a framework of institutional re-engineering and digital transformation.
In this regard, the following will be undertaken:
- The establishment of a Social Support and Empowerment (SSE) Unit, for the integration of Government grants via a single door policy to social services.
- The implementation of an Integrated Services Enterprise Management System (ISEMS) which will represent the modernized way of providing social services at the Ministry
- The launch and implementation of the Social Transformation and Empowerment Programme – Uplifting People (STEP) model to provide vulnerable populations with re-tooling strategies to improve their quality of life.
- Implementation of the National Services Card System which will track vulnerable populations and take social services to those most in need.
To complement the thrust towards the social and economic empowerment of citizens, the report by the Roadmap Committee also outlined the need to strengthen social safety net programmes with the use of technology.
Therefore, digitization of all social services and Government grants will be critical, particularly as more focus will be placed on the following groups, who were affected by the pandemic: families, single mothers, persons with disabilities, older persons, and the socially displaced, to name a few.
The Ministry said it welcomed the placement of additional disposable income in the hands of families- this applies to situations where an individual earns $7,000. 00 or less per month, that person will not be required to pay income tax.
In keeping with the intention to create a digital society (via MI-FI), the MSDFS endorses the initiative of the Government to expand existing Wi-Fi hotspots and establish more internet cafes in all areas of Trinidad and Tobago.
The Ministry said it intends to work closer in the community, with NGOs, civil society organisations and community groups; as well as the private sector, with a view to a more integrated approach to social services delivery.