Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 4th 2014 Contents The Inter-American Development Bank, in
its July 2014 Quarterly Bulletin, has identified
T&T as having one of the most generous set
of labour and social programmes, if measured
by amount spent and variety, compared with
other Caribbean countries.
However, the IDB noted, increasing expan-
sion and permanence of programmes has led
to duplication of functions even within min-
istries. Moreover, without a monitoring and
evaluation of their effectiveness, costs have
escalated, and with less incentives for people
to enter the workplace there are signs of short-
age of certain types of labour.
Following is the IDB s analysis of the social
and labour situation in T&T, the set of gov-
ernment programmes and their impact on
Characteristics of poverty and labour
Trinidad and Tobago is blessed with relatively
high GDP per capita---valued at US$28,743 in
purchasing power parity terms in 2011, but
there is scant information on the socioeco-
nomic conditions of households. Data on
poverty and social statistics has somewhat
lagged behind---the 2014 Survey of Living Con-
ditions is currently in the field---but the last
measurement of poverty per the 2005 Survey
of Living Conditions estimated that 11 per cent
of households, representing 15. 4 per cent of
the total population, were poor; in addition,
1.2 per cent of the population were extremely
poor or indigent. There was no indigence in
Tobago even though the poverty rate in that
island was higher.
Trinidad and Tobago s poorest households
were disproportionately affected by the 90 per
cent increase in food prices in the period 2007
to 2010, but this has subsided somewhat.
Food expenditures account for around 30
per cent of household expenditure in the coun-
try s poorest quintile. In terms of demographic
characteristics of poor households, unlike in
many countries, they were not necessarily
those headed by women (although the pro-
portion was slightly higher than the average---
38 per cent compared with 32 percent for the
population as a whole).
However, the average size of a household in
the lowest income quintile was much larger,
at 5.2 persons per household compared with
an average of 3.6 persons for all households.
The poor are defined as those living at or
below the poverty line, which was equivalent
to TT$665 per month in 2005. Indigent refers
to households that are unable to meet the cost
of obtaining the minimum basket of food items.
Since the Survey of Living Conditions yield-
ed this poverty estimate, direct transfers and
subsidies to households (excluding unemploy-
ment relief, training, and other services) have
risen dramatically, from 3 to 7 percent of GDP
between 2003 and 2013, with a big increase
occurring in 2009 after the recession. More-
over, as will be discussed shortly, it is not clear
whether there has been an impact on poverty
and employment outcomes and, if there has,
whether this has been achieved in the most
efficient way possible financially.
A total of 62 social protection and labour
programmes were identified in the country ,
out of which at least 10 were created after
More important, many were expanded. Of
the 62, 27 were safety net programmes, 32
were active labour market programmes, and
three were social insurance programs.
Most of the programmes aim to develop
human capital. Micro enterprise development
was also a frequently occurring objective.
Training (37 per cent), followed by cash (16
per cent), and labour market intermediation
services (13 per cent) were the main benefits
provided across programs identified.
The Social Sector Investment Plan, which
defines the budget to carry out the social
development strategy of the country every
year, has three objectives (or "pillars"):
(a) people-centered development;
(b) poverty eradication and social justice;
and(c) national and personal security.
More than 10 institutions (including gov-
ernment ministries and agencies and statutory
bodies) were found providing social protection
and labour benefits through one or more pro-
Six main programmes of social protection
and employment consume 63 per cent of the
social sector budget in 2014, which is equal
to almost TT$7 billion or 4.8 percent of esti-
By far the largest is the senior disability
pension or grant (see Table 3). While most
programmes are means-tested, once some
form of eligibility is established it is fairly easy
to qualify and to apply for continuation.
Most programmes are internally audited---
although infrequently---but none of the main
ones are monitored for efficacy and follow-
The main social protection agency is the
Ministry of the People and Social Development,
which accounted for 15 of the 63 main iden-
tified programmes at end-2013.
• Continues on Page BG3
budget special 2015 Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, September 4, 2014
welfare state overly
Links Archive September 3rd 2014 September 5th 2014 Navigation Previous Page Next Page