Minister within the Ministry of Social Protection, Keith Scott has boasted about the provisions that the APNU+AFC government has been making in pursuit of securing the good life for all.
He said that over the years, the government has been proving its concern for the people, through the measures it has been implementing, and Budget 2018 is yet more proof that the incumbent has the interest of the nation at heart.
Scott told the National Assembly, “As we engage in this budget debate, we cannot and will not lose sight of the fact that the parameters of human development include enhancing people’s capabilities and improving their opportunities. It is in this context that our achievements and projections as outlined in the Budget are noteworthy.”
Scott pointed to several initiatives of the government that have been successful in previous budgets and that will be further enhanced with prudent use of allocations made in the 2018 Budget.
He noted that there are 168 young people who benefitted from the “Youth biz 592 Project” and the School’s Entrepreneurship Project. The Minister said that these projects are designed to empower young people with entrepreneurial skills to create, own and manage businesses “rather than depending on government to provide them with jobs exclusively.”
Scott said that the ‘youth biz’ programme has complemented several similar projects which were successfully piloted by the Board of Industrial Training (BIT).
Scott boasted that BIT was responsible for the training of over 1000 young Guyanese for the world of work over the last two years.
The Minister indicated that BIT has diversified its training methodologies to cater for persons with disabilities. He said that 186 persons or 11 percent of all persons trained were those with disabilities.
Scott said that the Budget provides $72M more for the enhancement of BIT-managed programmes.
He then spoke of a Sustainable Livelihood and Entrepreneurial Development programme which, he said, is concerned about the development of corporate societies in the hinterland regions. Scott indicated that the project will continue to be promoted in 2018, as $150M has been allocated for that purpose. He also said that there will be a resuscitation of the manganese mine after four decades of dormancy.
The Minister told the National Assembly that approximately 350 jobs will be created by that venture. He said that the quoted figure of 350 does not include the 1200 persons who will be employed for the infrastructural works and other auxiliary programmes to aid the venture.
Scott lauded the works of the Labour Exchange or Employment Bureau. He said that the bureau has engaged over 700 enterprises in 2017. During those engagements, the bureau encouraged the agencies to utilize the recruitment and placement services it offers.
Scott said that over 1700 persons seeking employment registered with the bureau. Just then, Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira injected asking, “And how many actually got jobs?”
Scott promptly responded “1238 were actually placed in employment.” He even said that that record will be surpassed in 2018, “because human development is a priority.”
Scott recalled that the APNU+AFC promised a revitalization of the co-operative movement. He said that as precursor to that initiative, a ministerial taskforce was established with a view of determining, among other things, the status quo of the movement and what was needed to be done to secure its rebirth. He said that the taskforce has identified many solutions, many of which have already been acted upon and others continue to be examined.
Scott said that US$12M has been set aside in the Budget for four “model cooperative villages.”
These four communities—Buxton, Ithaca, BV and Mocha—will be working in conjunction with the Ministry of Agriculture.
The US$12M will be utilized for equipment and “assistance for the execution of a programme.”
Scott said that these four societies are expected to create 160 jobs minimum.
He emphasised that the government is not only focusing on the creation of jobs, but is also paying attention to the treatment given to workers.
Scott said that there has been an analysis of the strike rate in the sugar industry over the last three years. He said that a tabular representation of strikes proved that there were 170 in 2015, 139 in 2016 and 89 in 2017. Scott said that within three years, strikes declined by 49.4 percent.
“That has never happened before…this is despite the fact that there is restructuring which usually causes industrial unrest.”
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