LOCAL Government Minister Dr Surujrattan Rambachan says he wants to redefine "Self-Help" in such a way that people who can contribute do so, while those who are unable to will not have to.
"What I really want to see happen, and I am working on it, is that we redefine Self-Help so that people can contribute to Self-Help.
"The exception to the rule is that the people that truly cannot do anything will not have to pay anything," he said
Rambachan was addressing Local Government councillors on the use of the Minor Repairs and Reconstruction Grant at a training seminar hosted by the National Commission for Self Help at La Joya Complex, St Joseph last Wednesday.
The Self-Help Commission implements infrastructure projects ranging from the repairs of roads, drainage, retaining walls, bridges and houses throughout Trinidad and Tobago.
The Commission also seeks to ameliorate hardships, especially in rural communities and some urban settlements, giving the residents better access to their homes, stimulating cottage industries and promoting sustainable development via its grants.
According to Rambachan, however, while the Government wanted to "serve the community and empower people away from a life of poverty", it had become costly, and with a $40 million budget the Self Help Commission needed to be more scrupulous.
Furthermore, he said he had received reports that people were not using the funds given to them by the Commission for the purpose it was meant for.
"I also received reports about hardwares hiking prices to get a percentage of money...let me tell you, I looked at some estimates and all of them were different.
"I don't know if the prices were being doubled because they think it will not be paid on time, but whatever the reason, they need to have a higher level of corporate social responsibility. When you act as a good corporate citizen people get to know about that and people contribute to your business when they buy," he said.
Rambachan further criticised "the shoddy work being done by some of the contractors employed by Self-Help", saying that when the Government expended money it expects value for that money and contractors failing to meet standards would be made to pay.
And as the Minister in charge of the Unemployment Relief Programme (URP), he is prepared "to lend out" the workers to help with the Commission.
"Our duty is to ensure that everyone enjoys a favourable standard of living and our intention at the Self-Help programme is to do that," he said.