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New social safety net plan coming

Published: 
Saturday, August 19, 2017
Minister of Social Development and Family Services, Cherrie-Ann Crichlow-Cockburn. Photo by:ABRAHAM DIAZ

A National Social Mitigation Plan has been developed to assist retrenched workers among others during the current economic downturn.

How much this measure will cost taxpayers has not yet been determined.

Details of the new plan were disclosed by the Minister of Social Development and Family Services, Cherrie-Ann Crichlow-Cockburn during Thursday’s post-Cabinet media briefing held at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann’s.

Crichlow-Cockburn said that the plan will be geared towards not only retrenched workers but also to the unemployed, low-income families, youth, disabled people and poor and disadvantaged families.

The recommendations such as assessment for the disabled sector, exploring the introduction of unemployment endurance, productivity, innovation and enterprise development, property protection and financial security awareness, “will form part of the National Budget.”

Given the fact that 4.5 per cent of the population is unemployed and ten per cent categorised as the “low income” numbers approximately 200,000 people. That figure added to retrenched workers, disabled people, youth and poor families may be doubled or tripled.

“So, taking into consideration the number, the value or costing of the National Social Mitigation Plan would be large but not one I would want to venture because it is not yet finalised yet,” Crichlow-Cockburn said.

“For three similar social programmes, our monthly bill is $377 million and there has been no reduction in these programs despite the economic downturn. We, however, anticipate that we would be able to implement this plan. It is agreed in principle but not approved because we are looking at the cost factor,” she said.

The directive came against the backdrop of precipitous fall in energy prices with the consequent impact on revenue streams, job losses in the public and private sectors and generally, the sluggish economic activity.

It is anticipated that an increasing number of individuals and families who now find themselves with little to no resources to support themselves in a sustainable manner.

As part of the development of the plan, the Ministry engaged a consultant to garner information from a large cross-section of the population and generate crucial feedback as a mechanism to assess and understand the social impact of the economic downturn/recession on the various target populations.

The Health Economics Unit at the University of the West Indies has been tasked with writing and finalising the plan.

Upon completion, it would be forwarded to Cabinet for approval.