CHAGUANAS East MP Vandana Mohit said there are people in TT who are becoming "income poor" and are being forced to sell their assets.

She was making her maiden parliamentary contribution during the budget debate in the House on Monday.

She said the country has reached an economic position where some citizens are facing asset riskĀ  and becoming income-poor. She related this to the Government, which had also become income-poor and was looking to put up assets for sale.

"The same thing happening to citizens."

Mohit said the means test for social assistance has been redefined with income-based measures, which would mean more pressure for citizens.

"You have families without food. They have no transport to go to the offices."

She recalled under the People's Partnership administration there were outreach caravans which took social services into the communities.

"Is Government making a mockery of poor people in this country?"

She said the PNM in its 2015 manifesto said its aim was to reduce poverty and improve social justice, but the opposite has happened. She described the previous presentation, by the Minister of Social Development and Family Services, as "full of mamaguy and no mathematics."

"Based on the treatment of the social safety net we have to wonder if they have any care for the people of TT."

Mohit said the ministry's recurrent allocation was $5 billion personnel expenditure, of which approximately 65-70 per cent was consumed by overheads and operating expenditure before a $500 grant is given to the poor man.

"That means a mere five-ten per cent of the $5 billion reaching the poor and needy."

She said the Social Development Minister boasted about billions spent on covid19, but the Opposition wanted to know when, where and how. She echoed the Opposition Leader's call for a forensic audit of the funds spent on covid19 relief.

Mohit recalled as a former mayor (of Chaguanas) she delivered 1,100 hampers without any allocated funding, and the minister should be embarassed to boast about 1,400 hampers being distributed.

While Government boasted about recertification regarding the food card and the "wiping" of 18,900 people from the system reducing the total from 45,500 to 26,600, she charged, "In (the media) families pleading for help for their children to eat."

She also questioned how many students enrolled in the school feeding programme had been left behind.

"Yet Government presents in this House and they claim to leave no one behind."

She urged Government to get into communities and begin "walking the talk" with direct impact outreach.

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