By Caribbean News Now contributor
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad -- The board of directors and members of a local non-governmental organisation (NGO) have expressed concern over what they describe as Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar and the ministry of the people and social development’s lethargic approach to the release of funds to assist the organisation’s programmes and administration in support of persons living with and affected by HIV.
According to a statement by Dale Enoch, chairman of the board of Community Action Resource (CARe), a subvention was expected to be received by the organisation from the state via government’s 2014 social sector investment programme, a part of the national budget geared towards assisting non-governmental organisations in their mandate to improve the lives of citizens in need.
The organisation said it has received contradictory reports from government officials for almost a year with respect to when and how the funds would be released.
Enoch further stated that CARe has complied with the Ministry of the People and Social Development’s multiple requests to examine the organisation’s files and accounts, and conduct two comprehensive audits.
According to the statement, the then minister Dr Glenn Ramadarsingh was contacted in February of this year, and he assured Enoch that the matter would be given his full attention. After his removal in March of this year, correspondence pleading for intervention into the matter was sent to the prime minister, who assumed responsibility for the ministry of the people and social development, to which there has been no response.
“Government cannot be serious about its commitment to dealing with HIV, yet deny funding to an organisation that is doing the work and making the difference for so many years,” said Enoch, pointing out that CARe, which has been in existence for 25 years, serves an important role in improving the lives of persons living with and affected by HIV.
“We barely manage to keep our doors open through the goodwill of members and private individuals, so that we could fulfil our obligations to external agencies to continue existing projects, and provide a space for persons living with and affected by HIV to access much needed psychosocial support,” Enoch added.
CARe is based in Trinidad and Tobago and seeks to foster rights-based interventions for communities living with and affected by HIV. Its mission is to provide sustainable programmes and services that empower communities to change attitudes and behaviours of and towards those affected by HIV.