Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar launched the Baby Care Grant programme on 22nd April 2015, after announcing the initiative in the 2014-2015 budget last September. It will cost taxpayers over $100 million to implement. Families with an infant (0-12 months old) with a combined income of $3,000 per month or less are eligible to receive this one-off $500 grant from the Ministry of the People and Social Development.
Some complained that the $500 grant could not remotely cover the expenses associated with raising an infant but others have commended the Government for attempting to provide any relief possible, amidst rising living costs.
It is interesting to note that the Government of Finland provides a maternity package to expectant mothers containing, inter alia, “bodysuits, a sleeping bag, outdoor gear, bathing products for the baby, as well as nappies, bedding and a small mattress”, as explained in this article entitled “Why Finnish babies sleep in cardboard boxes” (thanks for the referral Shilohna!).
In Finaland, this maternity box is now an established “rite of passage” of motherhood and though originally only offered to low-income families, is now offered to all expectant mothers.
Could local manufacturers and cottage industries in T&T come together to create basic infant necessities with a ceiling value of $500/box, and simultaneously stimulate local entrepreneurship and business activity as opposed to presenting new parents with a relatively unregulated cash grant? Maybe.