1,500 “misvalued” vouchers issued to food assistance recipients
Larson acknowledged the matter in a press statement yesterday.
She noted that during the task force’s weekly coordination meeting earlier in the week members discussed at length different ways to stretch the budget.
“Very unfortunately, there was a miscommunication regarding our decisions,” Larson said.
“Zone leaders for New Providence met again last night and first thing this morning we implemented steps to correct the situation created by the issuance of the misvalued vouchers.
“Reserve financial resources were directed at the affected zone and recipients in the area will receive an additional voucher to make up the difference.”
The government recently committed an additional $10 million to food assistance.
Larson said: “to most people that sounds like a huge amount of money. In reality — which for us is providing food assistance across the length and breadth of our country — the money goes extremely quickly.”
She urged the public to work with the task force, and not against it.
“In this day and age, people often jump to the most negative conclusions,” Larson said.
“Justifiably, the issuance of the misvalued vouchers created serious concern among the recipients.
“But it was a mistake. Our workers and volunteers should not have had to suffer so terribly and unnecessarily from the backlash.”
Larson added: “People need to understand that the value of assistance they have received over the past few months might not be sustainable in the future.
“The government is working feverishly to revive our economy. Still, the basic fact of the matter is food assistance needs wider assistance.
“Without it, we will be forced to change our strategy. If any person or entity is interested in contributing, please reach out.”
In an earlier press release this week, Larson called on people receiving assistance, who may have returned to work to update their employment status on the RAPID database, and withdraw from the program.
She reiterated yesterday: “Going forward, what we need to do is to focus on those persons who remain unemployed and help them.”
Progressive Liberal Party Chairman Fred Mitchell weighed in on the matter outside the Senate yesterday.
“So, now we are back to long lines at the food stores and people who are unemployed are getting vouchers for $20, excluding VAT.
“Compare this to the $52 dollars and change in aid, which the PLP’s leader Philip Davis gave quietly for gas and for food. We did that quietly with our limited resources.
“Those resources of course have now been exhausted.
“But, Mr. Davis as a private citizen and as a leader in this country thought he ought to do something to help and did so upon his return, something tangible to help — and not $20.
“Compare this $20 to the $52 and change, it is clear that the government can do more on all fronts.”