Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers' Association (TTMA) president Dominic Hadeed has suggested that Government redirect participants in the Unemployment Relief Programme (URP) to work in the private sector.
Finance Minister Larry Howai, speaking with reporters following the "Idea 2 Innovation" award ceremony held at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Port of Spain yesterday, confirmed the suggestion was made during a pre-budget consultation with the TTMA last week.
Hadeed, speaking to the Express yesterday during a telephone interview, suggested that if participants in these programmes were used in a productive way, in areas such as agriculture for instance, they could eventually find employment.
"If Government paying URP and CEPEP and gave them to farmers, and it makes farming more interesting, they could then hire them in permanent jobs," he added.
Hadeed said businesses would get the opportunity to access labour and this initial redirection could lead to a scaling back of the programmes.
"They are redirected to us, better-paying jobs, they start to leave URP programme and get permanent jobs," he added.
He said these types of programmes were good but should be put in when needed and removed when they are not.
Hadeed pointed out that there were a number of "help wanted" signs around the country.
Howai commented on Tuesday's statement by the Central Statistical Office (CSO) which indicated that unemployment had fallen to 4.2 per cent in the fourth quarter of last year.
He said that URP and similar programmes may be part of the reason that the figure was down.
He said his Ministry has requested information about the unemployment figures and will be looking at it to determine in which areas there were decreases in unemployment.