Former Social Services minister defends R.I.S.E. programme

Melanie Griffin, former minister of Social Services

Former Minister of Social Services Melanie Griffin is defending the R.I.S.E. (Renewing, Inspiring, Sustaining and Empowering) programme.

The programme, which began under Griffin’s watch while she served with the previous Christie administration, is now under fire by officials at the Ministry of Social Services. Ministry officials in a press release on Tuesday, cited a myriad of challenges with the R.I.S.E. programme that reportedly forced its closure by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

Officials maintain that the program appears to have “self-destructed and suffered irreparable defects as a result of poor management.”  Low performance outputs and failure to meet certain benchmarks in the timeline set by the IDB were also cited for the program’s immediate closure in August last year.

The R.I.S.E. programme was sponsored by the IDB and was expected to last for a period of five years. Ministry  officials, however stated that the project failed to reach its objectives during its pilot stage.

Eyewitness News reached out to to the former minister who admitted that the program had its challenges but laid blame at the feet at the present administration whom she said could have requested an extension on the loan.

“I don’t think they fought to keep it,” said Griffin. “The present government has done nothing with the programme to ensure that the goals were met.

“Yes, we had our challenges but it was a pilot program so you would expect for it to have its issues which needed to be worked out. It was up to the government to continue with what we had started and I don’t think that they did.”

Griffin added that the loan amounted to $7.5 million. She estimates that $4.5 million was used up until the time she was voted out of office in May 2017.

Meanwhile ministry officials reported that they plan to continue with other products and service offered and also plan to launch – in segments – select automated services to improve the quality of services offered to and on behalf of Bahamians.