Gladys Potter, the United Progressive Party Candidate for St. John’s Rural South, is condemning what appears to be a new pre-condition for receiving food vouchers from the Government: Reportedly, persons desiring such assistance are now required to present their vaccination card.
Hundreds of workers, especially those employed in the tourism sector, have lost their jobs since the COVID-19 pandemic hit here in March 2020. And in the absence of any stimulus package, the Browne Administration says it has been distributing food to those in need.
However, it was rumoured that supporters of the ruling Antigua Labour Party were being given priority and that persons had to present their voter-identification card to receive food vouchers.
Potter alleges that the pre-requisites have been taken to another level and persons must now prove they have been vaccinated in order to get a voucher.
Earlier this year, Dean Jonas, the Minister of Social Transformation and Health Minister Sir Molwyn Joseph refuted the allegations about the voter-ID card. However, REAL News obtained proof that this was being required in Jonas’ constituency of St. George.
Two weeks ago, another complaint was made to our News Room. This time, relatives reported that Jonas and staff members of the Centre for the Disabled were “politicizing” the distribution of assistance cheques.
According to one woman, the families of disabled persons enrolled at the Centre were instructed to present themselves at the Potters Primary School one afternoon.
On arrival there, she says, “it was like Carnival.” She reports that cheques for $150 were being distributed by staff who were “all decked out in their red” and that Jonas, in whose St. George constituency the school sits, “was presiding over the affair.”
The woman says she objects to the distribution taking place at the primary school – located a stone’s throw from Jonas’ constituency office – since two previous cheques, for $100 each, had been given out at the centre.
She further objects to public-sector workers being mandated to wear red, the colour associated with the Labour Party, while performing their jobs.
“If the Government is helping the disabled with this pittance, why does the Minister have to insert politics into it?” she asks, pointing out that the cheques are drawn from taxpayers’ money – and not from Jonas’ pocket.