BVI News

Mather ‘apprehensive’ about amended Public Assistance Bill’

Opposition legislator and Deputy Speaker Stacy ‘Buddha’ Mather.

Territorial At-Large Representative Stacy ‘Buddha’ Mather voiced significant concerns about the proposed changes in the Public Assistance Bill 2024 and their potential impact on vulnerable groups within the territory.

The bill, introduced by Health Minister Vincent Wheatley, aims to revise and strengthen the existing social safety net by amending the Public Assistance Act of 2013.

Minister Wheatley highlighted the bill’s objectives as increasing support for low-income individuals and aligning the legislative framework with the Commission of Inquiry (COI) recommendations. These amendments intend to address five major areas, including modernising definitions, specifying eligibility criteria, broadening assistance packages, and enhancing the programme’s administration and accountability.

Speaking in the House of Assembly yesterday, Mather expressed apprehensions about the practical implementation of the bill and its effects on the community despite improvements mentioned by the Minister.

“I appreciate the amendments,” Mather stated, “but how does this work in tandem with other agencies? I’m reading words on a paper, and I don’t know how it’s going to play out in real life.”

Mather was particularly concerned about the provisions for entrepreneurship and small businesses within the bill, questioning how these initiatives would function alongside other ministry efforts.

He also pointed out the potentially insufficient staffing at the Social Development Department to handle the increased responsibilities proposed in the bill, noting a recent government hiring freeze that could complicate these efforts. “I am in favour of helping our people and making things work, but I question all of these put under one department that is already struggling with resources and staffing,” he said.

“The bill covers a lot of areas and I’m grateful for that. However, I’m apprehensive,” Mather explained. He also highlighted the financial figures involved, showing increased assistance amounts for families and individuals, which he praised, particularly for the elderly.

Mather also touched on the bill’s new sections, such as the shock response grant designed for large-scale emergencies and provisions for short- and long-term financial assistance, as outlined by Minister Wheatley. These aim to provide quick and practical support during crises, accommodating a broader range of needs than the current system.

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16 Comments

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  1. He tells the truth says:

    (But then, he always does.)

    If this bill does not include clear and simple avenues of application and provide transparency of dispensation, it will be the same old, same old friends and family plan.

    Like 27
    Dislike 1
  2. Unauthorized says:

    VIP are clueless and are tick-boxing! None of these things work without the proper planning and support. Blame the Unity Govt for letting UK people come in here and tell us we cannot help our people. The funding given to district reps was just fine and needed better oversight that’s all. Now they’re introducing the same s**t under a differnt name and will be far worst. This is no different to them disbanding the employment services program that they met when elected and replaced it with RATED which is the same s**t but just badly managed. Voting has consequences, enjoy the ride f**kers!

    Like 7
    Dislike 4
  3. Blind man says:

    People don’t realize that government is trying help persons by getting this bill past since the COI a lot of low income families are catching hell and in the hurricane season upon us this bill will many if we were to get affected by a major hurricane.

    Like 6
    Dislike 3
    • harsh but true says:

      most low income families need to go back to their home islands so they are no longer low income families, most were employed as single individuals and were paid a fair wage , they bring it on themselves by bringing or having families while on a work permit which only secures employment for 1 year. Harsh but true

      Like 6
      Dislike 4
  4. One way Fare says:

    Most of the ” lower income families,” should return to their countries where everything they need is bountiful..nobody sebd call them..nature has blessed them but their fulfillment is populating the self made BVI withb their self endowed poverty
    because success in these negros
    myopic world is for whites only we outtaplace to do otherwise so they overpopulate our prison and put out dem hand.

    Like 7
    Dislike 3
  5. @ Unauthorized. says:

    While various Programs and Initiatives may sound great at Face value, there is always specific intentions when it comes to some Politicians in the Virgin Islands. While some may say and it is true that some members of staff in various Departments need to go, there should be also some mechanisms put in place where Ministers should not be allowed to dictate who should or shouldn’t partake in such Initiatives after it becomes Law. Some things appear legit on the surface, BUT there are always ulterior motives. Such like the Covid Grants, Some Ministers would always find a way to manipulate the system only to have things swept under the Rug. People always complain about Systems being broken when infact it is the wilful actions of some people who make it seems like the overall system is broken. Great Initiative, but needs more honesty and transparency.

  6. dude says:

    This man steady got a problem with each bill.

    When it was time for yall to have problems with bills such as the greedy bill and many others yall didn’t make no fuss

    get the dang thing done from have issues with everything that promotes transparency and makes it harder to get to our tax monies

    you just reach but it looks like you alrdy picking up their bad habits

    Like 3
    Dislike 6
  7. @ WE GOT A CHICKEN HAWK says:

    On the loose in the vip , and look where they put him in charge of , its an insult us who have to go to the hospital concerning our health ( and as the song goes MANY MOR is
    E WILL DIE AND MANY MORE WILL SUFFER ) while some partying as if everything is alright .

  8. Thanks. says:

    Hon. Mather, I wish to say “Thank You for your kind Remarks on this particular Subject Months ago in the HOA. I also Thank You in advance for your advocacy for the Sexual Offender Registry which we are looking forward for in the near future. Thanks Hon. Mather. We appreciate you.

  9. Those in charge says:

    The badminded Directors and senior managers that are messing up the system more .

    They realize Outsiders have outnumbered the local population so they do everything not to help Belongers even when they are qualified … The mentality of jealousy is killing this country.

    They smile with you because they have no choice. Notice how hogish and despicable some of them treat belongers .
    They feel people from outside the country benefits most . One hundred french men cannot be wrong

    Like 1
    Dislike 2
  10. maria louisa varlack says:

    for heavens sake too much terrorism on line.

  11. reality says:

    no one and i do mean no one who is not a bvislander or belonger should recieve any help except a one way ticket back to their home country.

    This is the problem in the BVI, burden on resources by people who can’t make it here.

    Like 3
    Dislike 3
  12. ... says:

    Our entrepreneurs should have solid backing, a head start & advantage over international business and not talking about debt to be repaid. Debt is slavery.

    Government taxes us, financial services & tourist for a reason, yet they quickly spend it on huge concrete monuments, to give to the people is a burden.

    People cry about fisher/farmer but forget or not realize regular businesses got grants too.

    Im not saying it should stop, it should become more regular & fair. Id say inclusive but it was inclusive.

    If they say free money, calling again over the radio about more space left and you dont apply… you cant froth at the mouth when others who did apply get.

  13. ... says:

    Regularly we need a hurricane booster. Annually.

    Get the unemployed and underemployed active in the community and pay them at the season start, & middle so we are more resilient. If the rich man house gets blown over, he can run to the poor man for food. That is how society should work.

    Not this feeding frenzy capitalism mentality.

    After many households faced Irma they needed help from those below them. That is reality.

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