Christmas will come early in the form of a $500 extraordinary payment for veterans, seamen and those receiving ex-gratia payments through the Department of Children and Family Services.
Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts made the announcement during his remarks about the 2008/09 Strategic Policy Statement, which was tabled in the Legislative Assembly Friday.
‘I am happy to announce that Government has decided to grant an additional $500 to enhance the lives of the elderly and those in need of assistance during this Christmas Season and enable them to share in the holiday festivities in a way which might otherwise not have been possible.’
Mr. Tibbetts said it was the Government’s conviction that veterans and seniors should be able to retain their independence to the greatest extent possible, and he noted that during the past two years, the stipend for seamen, veterans and those persons receiving ex-gratia payments through the Department of Children and Family Services had been increased.
The special $500 payment will be sent along with the regular monthly cheque paid to ex-gratia recipients on 17 December, Mr. Tibbetts said.
The 2007/08 Budget estimated there would be between 880 and 900 people who receive poor relief payments; between 750 and 780 recipients of ex-gratia seamen benefits; and between 330 and 350 recipients of ex-servicemen benefits. All together, an amount of CI$11,464,000 was originally budgeted for payments to people in those categories, which was enough to send $500 monthly payments to a total of 1,910 people.
Two weeks ago, the Finance Committee approved a supplementary appropriate of $550,000 for poor relief payments, which was likely for the extra payment to the approximately 1,100 ex-seamen and veterans.
Opposition MLA Rolston Anglin said he was happy the recipients of the extra payment would be able to have a good Christmas.
‘But I wonder what the government would have said about it if they were the opposition and we did that,’ he asked.