|Rowley knocks Govt |
Thursday, August 23 2012
Two weeks after disaster struck Diego Martin in the form of floods and landslides and destroying properties and livelihoods, “residents have received nothing in terms of what they need to restore their living condition,” Leader of the Opposition Dr Keith Rowley said yesterday.
Rowley told the media at a press conference that Prime Minister Kamla Persad’s declaration of Diego Martin, a disaster area would have “brought increased urgency and additional allocation.”
The declaration of a state of disaster, he said, “was not followed by any statement from Government that any sum of money, additional to normal funding would have been made available so that people in the circumstances could find themselves with resources that they need.”
“I can say,” he said, “no disaster programme has been put forward to them.”
Instead, people who have lost homes and who need to restore walls, roofs and furniture, he said, were made to fill out forms to apply for normal housing grants from the HDC. “That is not an emergency disaster response,” he said at the Office of the Opposition Leader, Charles Street, Port-of-Spain. The $20,000 grants to property owners, which will be disbursed in two tranches, he said, does not cater for people who were renting homes and have lost their means of accommodation. “I don’t know how that is going to work,” he said.
Noting the grants were only available for this fiscal year, Rowley said, with just one month to go, “it might be that those funds are already used up and there is no funding” for the relevant ministry to properly respond to the people. The response by the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM), Rowley said was questionable, and the response in terms of effectiveness needs to be evaluated.
The disaster in Diego Martin, he said, was an indication that, “This country is not prepared to treat with any major natural disaster.”