June 19, 2012:
The Ministry of the People and Social Development will hold a series of public consultations on the issue of vagrancy in the nation's capital in the coming months.
The consultations would be held with members of the business community and civil society.
Line Minister, Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh made the announcement during a press conference at his Caroni Central Constituency office, Mission Road, Freeport.
Ramadharsingh was responding to newspaper reports which suggested there has been a 13 percent increase in homeless persons in Port-of-Spain.
The Minister noted the issue of vagrancy was a "50 year-old problem" and the increase was more of a reflection of the situation over the last ten years of that period.
"The increase depicted cannot be taken in isolation in the context of the strides made by my Ministry since the People’s Partnership Government came into office two years ago," he said.
Ramadharsingh also noted that “intense” discussions were held with major stakeholders, including mayors and several Non Governmental Organisation (NGOs) last November. He said all involved "expended great social effort in dealing with the socially displaced".
Ramdharsingh said to date, 37 persons were removed from the streets voluntarily and were housed at the Piparo Empowerment Center. A similar facility is presently being prepared at Queen Street, Port-of-Spain.
He added that legislation is currently before the Legislative Review Committee (LRC) to address the issue of those still to be removed.
“The problem of vagrancy is a 50 year old one, and correcting it is an on-going process. A Cabinet Note and a Position Paper are receiving the fullest attention of the Government,” Ramadharsingh said.