It seems elected leaders will never get the chance to distribute social assistance grants in the future, as the government is currently working with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to develop a Social Protection law in the Virgin Islands.
UNICEF and the government put out a public notice, which states that they are seeking a consultant to lead the development and introduction of the new law.
In addition to leading the development of the new bill, the consultant will be required to develop an analysis report of the existing legislative framework for social protection in the BVI, including strengths, weaknesses and recommendations for strengthening a universal approach to social protection.
Elected leaders once had the ability to hand out various social assistance grants to their constituents. But the 2022 Commission of Inquiry report recommended that the process for such grants be revisited as there were instances of mismanagement and abuse by elected leaders over the years.
Auditor General Sonia Webster later did an audit of the COVID-19 Assistance Grants, which concluded that there was a general lack of adherence to all the programme’s guidelines and in many cases, grants were given even though there was no evidence of need or that issues were brought on by the effects of COVID-19.
The audit also noted that “the management of all assistance grants should remain within the remit of the Social Development Department.
Since the removal of grants from under the purview of elected leaders, they’ve called for the process to revert to its original form, saying they are unable to assist their constituents who often need immediate resources to solve their problems.
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