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Ramadharsingh: Biometric system to measure poverty

By Richardson Dhalai Thursday, December 22 2011

click on pic to zoom in
hamperisation: Minister of the People and Social Development, Glen Ramadharisingh, right, and Minister in the Ministry of Works, Stacy Roopnarine, sor...
hamperisation: Minister of the People and Social Development, Glen Ramadharisingh, right, and Minister in the Ministry of Works, Stacy Roopnarine, sor...

Ministry of the People and Social Development Minister, Dr Glen Ramadharsingh, yesterday said Government would be soon introducing a biometric indicator to Trinidad and Tobago to measure a person’s progress out of poverty.

Ramadharsingh information came as he was asked whether Government was creating a “hamperisation” of society at the launch of the “People’s Bridge of Hope” National Christmas Hamper Distribution at the Penal Secondary School.

He said Government was moving towards a biometric system as there were “lots of people in need.”

“While we want to empower everyone, we are also moving towards a biometric system — this is a measure we have to do as not everyone is... well not everyone is happy in some communities, there are lots of people in need,” he said.

“And what I mean by biometric, every person who is poor and vulnerable in society will have a unique electronic fingerprint, meaning a card that has their fingerprint on it so that we can track through a computerised system how well they are doing in terms of getting out of poverty,” he added.

“There’s a co-efficient in ecometrics that measures how well you distribute wealth in the country, which across the globe, people are looking at now, he said, saying that the Government has been looking at how to alleviate poverty since coming into power. He cited the Children’s Life Fund as one example of Government’s attempt to help people in need.

Asked about the Ministry’s efforts in helping residents affected by the Trou Macaque fire that claimed four lives and left several homeless, Ramadharsingh said the People’s Ministry was on the spot “from the wee hours of the morning.”

“We were in a position to give the rental assistance grant to those who are displaced and homeless, but later there was not so much need as the keys were given to them for temporary apartments.”

“We processed all of them who required support in terms of losing their furniture, their appliances. Some of them were differently-abled and required medical aids, wheelchairs, food support in terms of hampers and emergency aids and we partnered with the Red Cross who were able to give pillows, mattresses, linen and other equipment but more importantly, the Family Services Division was on the ground, to give the psychiatric and psycho-social counselling for those who are really traumatised by these events,” he said.

With respect to the cost of the hampers, Ramadharsingh said the hampers were about $300 each and the overall cost of the 4,100 would amount to some $1.3 million dollars.

In his address at the event, Ramadharsingh cited a 2010 national poverty report which placed poverty levels in Trinidad and Tobago at 21.8 percent, saying this level was even higher in rural communities such as Mayaro and La Brea.

Some one hundred hampers were given to each member of parliament to distribute to needy families within their constituency.

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