Poor law rename much more than cosmetic

| 23/01/2019 | 3 Comments
Cayman News Service

André Ebanks

(CNS): The deputy chief officer in the Ministry of Community of Affairs, André Ebanks, has said that the overhaul of the outdated poor law desperately needs a name change and it that will be much more than just a bit of cosmetic tinkering. Appearing before the Public Accounts Committee last week, the senior ministry official, who is working on the legislation, said that the current principal law is inadequate and in desperate need of repeal and replacement with modern financial assistance legislation. Ebanks said that changing the name was a really important factor because everyone could agree that the current name, the Poor Persons (Relief) Law, has the wrong connotation.

“I think we need to look at our people from a transformative standpoint to provide them with financial assistance to get them back on their feet if they are able-bodied,” he said. “Changing the name might sound like a cosmetic thing but I believe it’s a sea change in how we approach this topic.”

Ebanks explained to the committee that the new law, when it is completed, will address a range of issues relating to the current inadequate law, including spelling out the powers of the Needs Assessment Unit, the eligibility criteria, an appeals process and properly constituted regulations.

He said that an initial consultative draft had been drawn up and was shaping the early stages of the legislation, but he admitted that the ministry was still some way from being able to present a green bill for debate in the Legislative Assembly.

Ebanks said it was important to collect input from relevant stakeholders and that the law was a cross-party piece of legislation, as it impacts the most vulnerable in our community. He said the opposition would be invited to have input in the law, which he hoped would be ready to come to the Legislative Assembly before the year-end, complete with the necessary supporting regulations.

Speaking about the delays in the policy and legislative reviews at the ministry, Chief Officer Teresa Echenique said that while the process was taking some time, they wanted to ensure the content of the new law was relevant for now and in the future and ensure the legislation had the necessary foundation to make sure the right services were delivered to the right people.

She also told the PAC that she would not be spending any more money on external consultants because they believe they have more than enough information within the ministry to inform the new law. Going forward, the ministry did not want to throw any unnecessary money into trying to solve the country’s welfare problems but instead find more strategic solutions, she said.

See the PAC proceedings on CIGTV below:

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Category: Government oversight, Laws, Politics

Comments (3)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Thanks Mr Andre I know that you and your Chief Officer in that ministry and your great work will make a real difference in the lives of our people!

  2. Anonymous says:


  3. Tell it like it is says:

    Behold how good and how welcome it is to see new blood dealing with these now ancient issues. I wish Mr. Andre and his Chief Officer r well in these endeavor and I trust that the final product will be widely discussed and approved at all levels of the community.

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