SOCIAL SERVICES RESPONDS TO PRESS ALLEGATIONS

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best viagra times;”>TUESDAY, APRIL 27TH, 2016

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RESPONSE TO THE REPORT OF THE AUDITOR GENERAL ON THE DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES (NEW PROVIDENCE) FOR THE PERIOD JULY 1ST, 2013 TO JUNE 30TH, 2015

The Ministry of Social Services and Community Development wishes to advise the public that it is actively addressing the concerns raised in the Auditor General’s Report on the Department of Social Services (DOSS) for the period July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2015.

The Ministry does not condone fraudulent activities. Employees concerned are being dealt with in accordance with the Rules and Regulations of the Public Service.

The Department’s manual, labour and paper intensive system for the delivery of assistance has been a source of concern for the Government for years and was one of the contributing factors for the introduction of the Social Safety Net Reform Programme, which is currently being implemented. The reform will result in the consolidation of two of the programmes offered by the Department through a conditional cash transfer programme, R.I.S.E. This programme will be delivered by way of a reloadable electronic prepaid card.

Another component of the reform focuses on the institutional strengthening of the Department which includes, training, increased staffing, new computer equipment and a new Management Information System which will link all centers in the Department.

The reloadable prepaid card, which was introduced in November 2014, replaced the paper food coupons for permanent and temporary food recipients in New Providence and Grand Bahama, the two islands with the majority of food assistance beneficiaries. This card is also now partially in use in North Andros. In these islands, the utilization of the card addresses several of the issues raised in the Auditor General’s report – the cessation of printing of food coupons for businesses and the payment of vendors by cheques. With the implementation of the prepaid card, vendors are paid within 48 hours electronically through their banks, eliminating the accumulation of large outstanding balances. Other issues are being addressed immediately, while others will be addressed once the Social Safety Net Reform Programme is fully implemented.

The Ministry will also assist the Department with the establishment of a Compliance and Inspectorate Unit to mitigate fraud and ensure that guidelines and proper procedures are followed.

We take this opportunity to applaud those staff members committed to the mandate of the Department of Social Services and who execute their responsibilities with dignity and the highest levels of integrity. We are committed to continuing on the path to building a stronger, more efficient Department to serve the people of The Bahamas.