There are currently 14,458 people employed with the Unemployment Relief Programme (URP), Housing Minister Roodal Moonilal said yesterday.
He was responding to a question in the House of Representatives. URP is currently separated into these ministries—Ministry of the People, Local Government and Food Production. There are 11,101 in the core programme and 3,357 in the women's programme.
It is used in the Ministry of the People for persons who are underprivileged and are in immediate need of social intervention. Local Government would continue important capital projects, while Food Production would use URP labour for the aggressive programme of producing food, Moonilal said.
He said the programme was in the process of transformation and restructuring with a view to achieving increased efficiency. URP would become a stronger community mechanism, offering temporary employment opportunities and training so that a more skilled labour force would be created, while delivering tangible projects to enhance the communities. Moonilal said there would be greater focus on management, monitoring, and value for money proposition, accountability, effectiveness and equality in the distribution of jobs.
In response to another question, Moonilal said a review of Community-based Environmental Protection and Enhancement Programme (CEPEP) revealed a number of irregularities. He said 40 per cent of the contractors had difficulties meeting commitments to the National Insurance Scheme and the Board of Inland Revenue at the time. He said it was discovered that a number of contractors were in the programme for nine years and contractors were not evenly distributed across Trinidad. He said in some communities there were many contractors while in others there was a complete absence of CEPEP workers conducting relevant work.
He said the review of the CEPEP programme is expected to be completed by June 2012. He noted that in the constituency of St Anns West/Port of Spain North the Government met six work teams belonging to a single contracting company, Hibiscus Services Limited, who operated for 8 long years in the constituency.
Moonilal said in the Northern part of Trinidad, there are now 40 CEPEP contractors, as opposed to 31 before.