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Fiji Time: 9:35 PM on Wednesday 17 September

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Poverty plan rollover

Sheenal Sharma
Friday, November 30, 2012

A NEW Poverty Benefit Scheme (PBS) will replace the Family Assistance (FA) scheme to benefit 13,000 of the poorest households in the country.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday, the Ministry of Social Welfare permanent secretary Govind Sami, said the ministry would discontinue its expanded food voucher program from December 31 this year.

Mr Sami said all the programs under the expanded food voucher were poorly utilised.

"With the social welfare program covering the family assistance recipients, we were only able to assist 2000 people with the conditions that we had under the expanded food voucher program," Mr Sami said.

Mr Sami said the expanded food voucher program, upon introduction, would have three components — assistance for those over 70 years, children attending schools in rural areas and pregnant mothers using rural stations.

He said the new PBS would target instead households with a maximum of four members.

Mr Sami said the maximum payment to these households would be $150 inclusive of a $30 food voucher.

He said able-bodied individuals in the households would also be identified to undergo some skill training to graduate the family out of the system.

"Within the period of being assisted, able-bodied family members will be required to look for meaningful employment or engage in income generating projects."

Mr Sami said the ministry would also provide assistance for the training. He said all files in the FA program would be re-certified to verify and check whether clients continue to qualify under the PBS.

"The ministry has equipped all the district officers with extra information technology equipment to ensure a smooth rollover," Mr Sami said.

He said all current social welfare recipients would continue to receive assistance.

Mr Sami said the new forms would be rolled out in the beginning of January and the first payment would be made around March and April next year.