Minister for Economic Development, Housing, Urban Renewal, Transport and Civil Aviation, Guy Joseph has said the people are overly dependent on the government for jobs.
The minister made the remarks on Monday while pointing out to reporters that there is also an over emphasis on the Constituency Development Programme (CDP).
“We are causing people to be overly dependent on government for jobs and that is what programmes like STEP and NICE and all of these – that is what they are doing,” Joseph said.
“I was having a discussion about the NICE programme and I said :’Why should I send a NICE worker to a private business establishment to work, pay them for that period of time and as soon as the programme ends these persons are dismissed?” The minister stated.
Joseph questioned why there was not an arrangement that if payment was made for someone to work for six months in an establishment, the establishment would be obligated to at least keep the person for another six months.
The minister declared that there was need to put basic common sense in some of the things that are being done.
“A lot of these people who were working in the private sector for the last four or five years, working for the people, you mean the NICE programme ended and none of these business places could have kept one of the workers?” He said.
On the matter of the CDP, Joseph said there is a perception that the programme can solve all the problems of the country in terms of employment and projects in communities.
Using his own Castries South East constituency as an example, Joseph noted that there are 33 major communities in the constituency.
“Even if you are to get a million dollars to spend in this constituency a year, how much can you impact these 33 communities?” Joseph remarked.
“I think that over the years we have overly focussed on drainage projects and walls and concrete roads – what you are doing is improving the living conditions or the environment of poor people, but you have not changed the status of these people in terms of themselves being able to improve their livelihood,” the minister observed.
He expressed the view that more of the funds need to be diverted into people development rather than infrastructure development.
“Now people are searching for little roads and foot paths and drainage and everybody wants a little job, but this little job only lasts two weeks – a month, and then what happens after that?” Joseph asked.
He asserted that more of the resources can be used to train and educate people as well as teach them a skill or help them to start a small business.
Joseph explained that in that way, jobs can be self-sustaining.
He warned that if the CDP continues in its current form, it will not deliver the expected returns in a general improvement of the livelihood of persons.