The United Progressive Party (UPP) is condemning the politicization of the Government’s food programme and asking whether the vouchers on offer by the Browne Administration will even be honoured.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne, on Saturday, July 9, said he is going to increase the value of the benefit, from $200 to $400 monthly.
The initiative should have been facilitated by the Ministry of Social Transformation. However, critics say it has been turned into a vote-getting tool for the Antigua Labour Party, since Browne announced that Cabinet ministers will be responsible for checking their constituencies and determining who is most in need.
Browne also claims that the number of people who benefit from the programme will be increased.
With food prices rising unchecked, and in the absence of any measures to reduce the cost of living, the UPP says it welcomes the announcement.
However, amid reports of vouchers being rejected because the Administration has not paid the various business places, the Party is also concerned that these vouchers will not be honoured.
The UPP says the situation became so grave that beneficiaries were asked to call ahead and verify whether the vouchers would be accepted in order to avoid embarrassment at the checkout line.
Meanwhile, UPP Political Leader Harold Lovell says he is hoping the value of the food vouchers is not being doubled while the number of recipients is cut in half.
And since Browne capped his announcement by challenging the UPP to “match dat,” Lovell is also questioning the sincerity of his announcement.
The Political Leader asks whether the Prime Minister is playing some sort of game with the people and their wellbeing and whether the food programme is an election gimmick or a serious initiative.
He is calling on Browne to stop his childish one-upmanship and the politicization of something as essential as food in this stringent economic crisis.