No special funding for fired sugar workers in SLED

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The Minister of Social Protection Amna Ally has indicated that there are no special interventions in the multi-million-dollar Sustainable Livelihood and Entrepreneurial Development (SLED) Initiative for thousands of sugar workers who were sent home last year.

The Minister engaged in a heated back and forth with Opposition Parliamentarian Dr Vindhya Persaud during Thursday’s sitting of the National Assembly.

Dr Persaud posed the question for the Minister to say whether any proposals for the SLED programmes are under consideration for the communities impacted by the termination of the jobs of sugar workers.

In response, Minister Ally said the SLED Initiative seeks to promote local economic development across the country in various communities.

Minister of Social Protection, Amna Ally

She said SLED provide financial support for entrepreneurial ventures, creates income-generating opportunities, promotes improved husbandry practices in agricultural and livestock ventures, promotes community development through the functioning of cooperatives, and encourage successful business practices and build the skills of community members through participation in projects.

As such, she said projects are considered following receipt of requests for assistance from community-based projects whose beneficiaries can include several categories of workers.

Dr Persaud also wanted to know what timeline exists for implementation of the SLED projects and in what communities.

Minister Ally said that since funding is provided based on requests for assistance, there is no predetermined amount identified for a specific community.

She added that SLED programme funding is based on annual budgetary proposals, and the 2018 funds have been programmed. She said preparations for the 2019 budget are underway and requests would be made for funding.

Dr. Vindhya Persaud

From these responses, Dr Persaud said she got the sense that nothing was allocated to an industry that is paralysed.

Dr Persaud pressed on, asking if anyone who requests funding will be able to access the funds. She also wanted to know who manages the Fund.

All Ally would say is that once requests are made and are considered, funding is disbursed. She did not directly answer to the management of the Fund.

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