Babies born six months ago are to get a gift of a “backpay” in a $100 million initiative to help parents cover the expenses of caring for children in the first year of their life.
Once born on October 1, 2014 and after, babies will benefit from a $500 a month grant under the Baby Care Assistance Initiative, a measure that applies only to parents who earn $3,000 or less.
The payments are to be retroactive, so that a maximum of $3,000 will now be released to parents whose babies are six months-old, with lesser sums for younger babies.
After this one-off “backpay”, parents will receive $500 a month to cover the purchase of food and non-food items essential to the infants’ well-being and development until their first birthday.
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar revealed $100 million has been budgeted to cover the baby care initiative which she launched at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s where 40 parents were the first to receive electronic cards topped up with a monetary value. A launch of the programme is planned for Tobago as well.
The cards, which will only work with personalised pin numbers, will enable the parents or legal guardians of the babies to make purchases of baby items at 293 supermarkets and stores across the country.
On hand to receive the cards and hampers were mothers with infants in hand, a few fathers and grandparents. Launching the initiative, Persad-Bissessar said, “it is important for the health, well-being and security of our children and parents of Trinidad and Tobago.”
She quoted US President Benjamin Franklin with whom she agreed that doing good for the poor was not in making it easy for them in poverty “but leading or driving them out of it.”
Ending poverty will not be achieved by money alone, but through comprehensive programmes, she said, and as such it was necessary to provide both financial and an empowerment component for parents. Since she celebrated her 63rd birthday yesterday, Persad-Bissessar said she was proud she could present the cards to the parents, mostly mothers, and their babies.
Asked how much of the money will be spent on the grants, Persad-Bissessar said, “It depends on the number of babies that will be born.”
Disclosing a $100 million budget for the 2015 fiscal year, Persad-Bissessar said there are two components to the initiative: financial assistance and an empowerment programme…READ MORE