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Oct 1, 2020

Food Assistance Program Currently Being Audited

Judith Alpuche

Both the Unemployment Relief Programme and the Food Assistance Programme are being audited by the Auditor General. Tens of millions of dollars have been spent and the opposition People’s United Party says that there has been abuse in both programmes carried out by the U.D.P. insiders.  C.E.O. Judith Alpuche says that the program is not only being audited by the Office of the Auditor General. She says that because it is a loan, all documents and transactions are being reviewed to satisfy the funder, OFID.

 

Judith Alpuche, C.E.O., Ministry of Human Development

“We have a system because most of it is done using technology even orders etcetera. So they have access to see our whole system, the texts everything so they can see it right down the line. The point is made that apart from the Auditor General we also have to ensure that everything is above board because it is a loan and it will be audited. This is done in a reimbursement basis so we have to ensure that all the paper work is in order.  So the way it works the government fronts that money and when you spend that tranche then you ask for a reimbursement. So you have to send back all the paperwork, all the evidence how it came to be. We have to send that it is being spent according to the concept note that you sent to the funder in this case OFID. So basically we have two levels of oversight going with that food assistance program.  The way we started with this thing as you may we put something on Facebook. We got over a hundred thousand applications that we duly went through all of them which by the way a hundred thousand applications is about fifteen thousand more households that were in the country of Belize. So clearly there were some duplicates and triplicates. We went through all of those, a part form that we had a phone bank, a call center if you will where people can call in and people kept complaining in the beginning that they can’t get through, the numbers are not working. It is because the numbers are constantly busy. We have over fifty add people working those phones.”

 

Reporter

“And how about those reports that some providers were giving those who qualified beans that are spoiled?”

 

Judith Alpuche

“We always ask people to report those because if you can imagine it is a network of over two hundred shops in every little nook and cranny in this country. That is why you see on our Facebook page, we have published the contents of the baskets and that sort of thing because we want people to protect themselves. You are not going into the shop to beg for a favor. This is a benefit giving to you by the government and so we want people to help us to make sure that the government is getting value for money. So when we get those complaints we make sure we investigate it and so. We have taken certain shops not only because of the quality of goods but also treatment that they have been not very customer centered. As I said this is not something that people are going to beg. This is a benefit that your government is giving to you.”


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