The food basket program will help combat hunger in the poorest, most isolated regions of the country
Timor-Leste's Minister of Health Odete Maria Freitas Belo administers Covid vaccine shots to residents in Ermera municipality on Oct. 3, 2021. (Photo: Timor-Leste Ministry of Health's Facebook page)
The Timor-Leste government has approved a food basket program to support vulnerable families and ensure economic recovery at national and local level amid a spike in coronavirus cases.
The number of active cases had reached 1,208 as of Feb. 10 with an average of 150 new cases being detected daily.
The increase in new cases in the Catholic-majority nation is reported mainly from the capital Dili and authorities believe the country may be entering a third wave of the pandemic.
“The basket consists of food products and personal hygiene items. The description, quantity and price of which will be determined by joint order of members of the government responsible for trade and industry and cooperatives. This basket can be replaced with a shopping voucher,” the government said in a statement.
The statement further explained that the program “intends to continue the availability of basic needs on the one hand, to ensure the sustainability of households, and, at the same time, to create normal conditions for the activities of producers and national economic actors in the face of declining demand.”
Families whose monthly income is less than US$500 will be entitled to receive $50 worth of assistance throughout 2022.
Vaccination efforts are still underway with 84.3 percent of the population having received at least one dose. Some 71 percent have been fully vaccinated
But families with members holding management positions or heading departments of public administration services of the state will not be eligible to receive the assistance.
The measure presented by the coordinating minister for economic affairs and approved at the meeting of the council of ministers recently is expected to help combat hunger and greater vulnerabilities in some of the poorest and most isolated regions of the Southeast Asian country, and to contribute to improving the food and nutritional diet of Timorese families affected by the pandemic.
The government had launched the first food basket program in October 2020.
Since the start of the pandemic, Timor-Leste has recorded 122 deaths and 20,748 cases of Covid-19. Vaccination efforts are still underway with 84.3 percent of the population having received at least one dose. Some 71 percent have been fully vaccinated.
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