Relief for 600 home-improvement applicants in Tobago

Tobago


Secretary of Settlements, Public Utilities and Urban Renewal Ian Pollard –

Relief is coming for over 600 people awaiting home improvement assistance from the THA Division of Settlements, Public Utilities and Rural Development, says the division’s secretary Ian Pollard.

Speaking at the post-Executive Council media briefing on Wednesday, Pollard said the division would host a cheque distribution ceremony on June 24 to address the backlog of pending payments totalling $9.27 million to 656 people.

The team, he said, is working assiduously to have as many people as possible processed by that date.

“In the home improvement programme, we have 213 persons waiting on a first tranche totalling $1,597,500. In that same programme, we have 136 persons waiting on the second tranche amounting to $1,020,000, totalling $2,617,500 and a total of 349 persons. In the toilet eradication programme, we have 25 persons awaiting first and second tranche. In the first tranche, we have 12 persons awaiting $210,000 and 13 persons awaiting $227,500, amounting to $437,500.”

For the home improvement subsidy, 29 people are waiting for their first tranche amounting to $290,000, and 15 awaiting second-tranche payments valued $150,000.

“A total of 44 persons, and sum total $440,000. In the home completion programme, we have 17 persons awaiting their first-tranche payment amounting to $170,000, and 18 persons awaiting their second-tranche payment amounting to $180,000: a total of 35 persons awaiting a sum total of $350,000.”

He said in the beneficiary-owned land programme, 116 recipients are awaiting their first tranche to the tune of $2,900,000 and 87 recipients their second-tranche payment of $2,175,000, for a total of 203 people awaiting $2,270,000.

He said $10 million has been requested from the THA Division of Finance, Trade and the Economy under Chief Secretary Farley Augustine. The balance, he said, will be used to assist new applicants.

Meantime, he said some of the policies and procedures of the division would be changed with regard to accessing grants and housing. He said in 2020, the auditor general’s report put forward several recommendations for the division on the home improvement programme that were not being adhered to.

“There was segregation within the programme known as the grant unit. As a matter of priority, a review of the procedural chart to facilitate investigation of the information provided by clients prior to the engineering aide site visits. Immediate filling of specified vacancies; and take immediate steps to establish a committee with the requisite expertise to review all application for approval.”

He said a group of technocrats was convened to structure the way forward. He said a new process flow has been developed and has been submitted to the executive council for approval to improve efficiency and transparency.

“A key improvement in this process includes the shortening of the timeframe from six-eight weeks to 21 days.”

He said additionally, there is improved access to application.

“Fillable forms would be rolled out on the assembly’s website on the division’s page in the next quarter.

“As verification of details still requires in-person visits to avoid issues of date corruption, the entire process would not be digitised.

“Applicants now have the opportunity to complete these forms at their leisure and gather all the necessary documentations prior to visiting the division.”

He said the activities of the officers in the office and in the field would be seamlessly linked to facilitate real-time access to authorised parties and affirm the checks and balances.

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