Cheating hardware dealers to be blacklisted
THE National Commission for Self-Help has been mandated to keep checks on applicants receiving grants for home construction and repairs.
And suppliers of building material who cheat applicants with increased prices, will be blacklisted, Minister of Local Government Surujrattan Rambachan has said.
Speaking yesterday at a function where $600,000 in cheques were distribution to homeowners affected by natural disasters , Rambachan said, "A lot of people go to the hardware (dealers) and collect material and then put down the material and they do nothing with it. And then you go to check and the materials are not there and house not repaired. We need to check because some people sell the material."
He said there were cases where hardware owners were cashing in the cheques and splitting the money between themselves and the applicant.
"But we are putting checks and balances to ensure this does not happen. One case I monitored for a year to see whether the material was used, but it was never used," he said. Rambachan said there were also cases where hardware dealers were charging applicants a fee for quotations.
"These people are unfortunate and in some cases illiterate, so sometimes the hardware makes them sign for receiving the material and don't deliver all," he said.
Rambachan advised the commission to develop a system where quotations can be checked.
"I have advised the Self-Help Commission to have someone develop a list of prices on a monthly basis and check against invoice and see if these match.
They can also cut it out from newspaper advertisements, so you know regular prices," he said.
The commission's chief executive officer, Reynold Baldeosingh, said a new approach was recently launched to assess applicants. "The assessment forms are now being distributed to the offices of Members of Parliament and councillors. A meeting was held two weeks ago to train personnel on assessment. The assessment will now be more detailed to ensure that we assist those people who really need the assistance," he said.
Self-Help chairman Surujdeo Mangaroo said 49 emergency relief grants valued at $10,000 and $15,000 were distributed to applicants from south and central Trinidad yesterday. He said applicants were affected by natural disasters in recent weeks, including heavy rainfall, flooding and landslips.
Rambachan said the commission was allocated $40 million in the 2012/2013 budget. He said a mandate was given to construct 100 houses a year over a three-year period for families unable to build a house or improve their living conditions.
He said construction of the first three houses would begin next month, two for disabled women and their children, and the other for a single mother.
Rambachan said the two-bedroom houses were estimated at $100,000 each. —CK