Almost $50 million has been approved for 199 projects under the Unemployment Relief Programme (URP), Minister of Local Government Suruj Rambachan said yesterday.
Speaking with the Express at the opening of a pedestrian bridge leading from Ninth Street, Beetham Estate to the Priority Bus Route, Rambachan said in two weeks, the costing of 199 projects between $100,000 and $450,000 had been completed.
"And these have all been tendered now, so throughout the country you are going to see contractors at work under the URP doing very useful and productive work, improving the infrastructure assets of the country, at a total cost of just under $50 million."
Rambachan said the URP was a misnomer, and had been doing much more than providing unemployment relief.
"URP has been involved in what you call, 'Start-a-House programme' for indigent people, URP has been building box drains...and a reformed programme of the URP was started very recently with the introduction of the URP agriculture and URP social and now I am intensifying URP in terms of the infrastructural work," Rambachan said.
Issues of unemployment are also being addressed in a more sustainable way through the URP programme, he said.
"What I am doing right now with the people in URP and the communities, is identifying persons who are currently working in the URP and who don't just want to work in the URP but (want) to become contractors.
"I have asked the National Entrepreneurship Development Company (NEDCO) to develop a training programme for us, which they have developed, and during the months of August/September, we hope to train these people in the basics of how to manage a project."
These people, he said, will then be able to manage their own contracts.
"And it is my intention to award small contracts to these people who are trained. In this way they are able to plan their futures a little better," Rambachan said.
He said many people from across the country were applying to be a part of the programme.