The BOOST program, part of the Government’s social protection initiative, is a cash transfer program offered to vulnerable sectors by the Ministry of Human Development. On Thursday we met with Minister of State and Belize Rural North area representative Edmund “Clear the Land” Castro who was registering his constituents. He tells us more about the qualifications.
Hon. Edmund Castro – Area Representative for Belize Rural North
“We’ve been working with this since 2010, and we got our time in 2011 which we received some 175 families. We couldn’t deal with the rest of the people because of budgetary constraints. So right now in 2013, we are trying to close the gap for those people who had applied back in 2010-11, to bring them on-line. So they’re conducting their interviews through the Department of Social Services, doing those interviews and trying to see how we can assist those families. Basically, what they need to have is a Credit Union account, and they need a Social Security Card for the kids, and they also must ensure that their kids attend classes on time every day, and that kind of thing. Those are some of the criteria that they need to have. So we’re trying to assist them.”
According to Edmund Castro he plays no favorites – PUP or UDP, if they qualify, they will be assisted.
Hon. Edmund Castro
“That’s right, but I am also the Area Representative, and being the Area Representative, these people voted for me and they send me to Belmopan to fight to make sure to get every little nickel and dimes they can get to help them, and who better to assist the people and bring the goodies to them other than their Area Rep?”
Reporter: “However, if I am die hard PUP I can’t line up here because Edmund Castro dih tell the Department of Social Services, no.”
Hon. Edmund Castro: “I no work so. I, as an Area Representative, I represent all P’s, PUPs, UDPs, Jehovah Witness, Adventists, Muslims, Rastas- I represent everybody! And I can tell you that in 2011, a number of PUP families and single mothers received benefits and in 2012 they never voted for me. But you know what? I feel good to know that their children are taken care of. This is not a party political thing. I go above the fray; I try to make sure tha the families that need the help, that they get the help”.
According to the World Bank which has named the program among its best worldwide, it has helped over 8,600 people since it began in November of 2011.