More than 300 qualified recipients of the Department of Social Services Food Assistance Programme in North, Central and South Abaco received their Visa Pre-Paid Cards during ceremonies held at the Central Abaco Primary School here in Central Pines, Abaco, Monday, June 27.
Visa Pre-Paid Cards have been simultaneously distributed to multiple islands throughout The Commonwealth of The Bahamas, as Social Services officials meet the self-imposed deadline to ensure that qualified clients are in receipt of, and using, their Visa Pre-Paid Cards by the end of June, 2016.
Minister of Social Services and Community Development, the Hon. Melanie Sharon Griffin said the implementation of the Visa Pre-Paid Card into the Family Islands allows qualified recipients of the Department of Social Services’ Food Assistance Programme throughout The Bahamas more flexibility in their purchases, while speeding up payments to vendors.
“The Visa Pre-Paid Cards provide clients with a better way of managing their purchases during the course of a month and at their convenience,” Mrs. Griffin said. “No longer will clients have to pick up all of their groceries at one time or in one place. With the food coupon, if clients went into the food store and did not use it all at one time, that was it.
“Now, clients can measure their spending to better suit their household needs. If they want to buy meat at one place, and their dry goods at another store, they now have the flexibility to do that. If they want to break down their purchases into four monthly purchases, or however is most beneficial to their household needs, then they now have the capability of doing that.
“We are more than happy with this new, modern payment system that no longer will vendors have to wait for months for payment, as they will receive payments within 48 hours. This means an immediate increase in cash flow and eliminates the high level of paperwork for accounting purposes,” Mrs. Griffin added.
Minister Griffin said the cards also guarantee clients the opportunity to make approved purchases on groceries anywhere in The Commonwealth of The Bahamas at approved stores that either accept Visa Pre-Paid Cards or have Point-of-Sales machines.
She encouraged clients, however, to use their cards in their various local communities to help boost local economies.
“The card provides clients who may have to travel inter-island the flexibility of making purchases, but what is most important is that they do not have to come out of their communities if you do not want to.
“Now we understand that Family Island recipients have to travel to another island, most likely New Providence, because they have to go to the doctor and it may be during a time when you have to use your card. That is acceptable. If you go to Grand Bahama or any other island you can use it because we know there may be some extenuating circumstances at times.
“But I want to encourage you to make your purchases within your communities where possible in order to make it a win-win situation for everybody.”
Mrs. Griffin warned clients that the cards cannot be traded for cash.
“That is fraud and if it is discovered, your card will be confiscated because obviously you do not need the food.”
Non-approved purchases will not be tolerated either.
“The card can only be used in the food store. It will be declined anyplace else. You cannot use it in a liquor store; you cannot use it in a web shop; you cannot use it in a beauty supply store buying nails and weave. The card is designed for food purchases within The Commonwealth of The Bahamas.”
Minister Griffin said persons who have been declined as recipients have the right to appeal the decision. She said there can be any number of reasons as to why persons are declined.
“Oftentimes persons may be declined because some of them are making way above the income for the cards. Let us remember that the cards are for persons who are considered to be unemployed and very low income for the most part, but there are also extenuating circumstances that can be reconsidered by the Department,” Mrs. Griffin added.