Vuniwaqa: Top-ups to provide additional relief

Minister for Women Mereseini Vuniwaqa in Parliament. Picture: RAMA

THE Australian Government provided direct funding of $9.9 million to enable top-ups for recipients of selected social welfare protection programs.

Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Minister Mereseini Vuniwaqa said the top-ups would provide additional relief to vulnerable Fijian families who were dependent on social welfare during the COVID-19 crisis.

“This cash and voucher assistance will be provided in August and September 2020, to beneficiaries already registered in Government’s Disability Allowance Scheme, Poverty Benefit Scheme and Care and Protection Allowance,” she said.

Mrs Vuniwaqa said this was an interim intervention to provide top-up for vulnerable families.

“The Poverty Benefit Scheme, the Care and Protection Allowance and the Disability Allowance Scheme assistance will go back to the regular monthly entitlements after the top-ups are completed.”

She said the program was targeted to reach the intended beneficiaries within the given budget with specific attention paid to impoverished households and individuals, including persons with disabilities and children.

“This intervention will allow the eligible beneficiaries to better manage the risk during this livelihood shock situation, increase the capacity of households and individuals to invest in human capital and help break the poverty cycle.

“As majority of the households under the selected programs have women beneficiaries and are in control of the household expenditures, this increase in reliable source of income through cash transfers will enhance their economic decision-making power within the households as well.”

Mrs Vuniwaqa said the assistance would enable approved households and beneficiaries to purchase food and essential supplies for their households in August and September.

“It is also assumed that cash will not only be used to purchase goods to cover basic needs, but occasionally beneficiaries will use them to repay debt and/or to make livelihood investments.”

She acknowledged the Australian Government for their support towards vulnerable Fijian families during the pandemic.

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