Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 4th 2014 Contents BG3
budget special 2015
Thursday, September 4, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
• From Page BG2
They run the main poverty safety net program, the Targeted
Conditional Cash Transfer Programme, which serves about
43,000 households, but has only 105 case workers. It provides
food assistance in the form of a cash transfer and developmental
programme to vulnerable households. The cash transfer com-
ponent is delivered via the Trinidad and Tobago Debit Card
The developmental component or RISE-UP (Rights of Indi-
viduals to Social and Economic Security-Universal Prosperity)
provides rehabilitative and developmental support through the
provision of training, assistance in finding employment, budgetary
planning, family planning,and career guidance to enhance client
In addition to other programmes for handicapped and disabled
individuals, almost 200,000 individuals are served, but few are
Training and Education Grants.
Training has been expanded in recent years, and there has
been an improvement in certification. While access to training
and opportunities for vocational training are very important
elements of human capital development, many of these programs
overlap and are not necessarily tied to demand needs in the
workplace, at least not in a systematic manner.
A 2007 IDB-financed evaluation found duplication in three
main areas: the types of skills and training provided, the target
group, and the type of accreditation: Many programmes offer
the same classes for the same group of people, and not all of
them have accreditation.
Unfortunately, the effectiveness of programmes is not meas-
ured, and students are not tracked after training.
Regarding the GATE, which provides free tertiary education,
the goal of the programme is to reach a college participation
rate for cohorts of 60 per cent, up from 10 per cent in 2004.
In 2004, student population mushroomed, including older
people (no age limit to get GATE).
However, neither a monitoring nor a tracer study of this pro-
gramme exists to evaluate educational and employment impact
of college graduates who received it. Moreover, because
the programme is not means-tested, students who can afford
to pay tuition also receive free access, so overall the subsidy is
biased in favour of wealthier individuals.
The 2007 study noted that the area of effectiveness was
clearly the weakest for all the training programmes considered.
With the exception of one programme, the Youth Training
Employment Partnership Programme Limited, no other pro-
gramme could present evidence of its effectiveness. This was
because tracking of clients was nonexistent.
There has been some analysis of cost per person, but even
if this is high, it is not necessarily an indication of lack of effec-
In respect of client cost of training programs, therange was
very wide: between a low of TT $640 per client for the Adult
Education Programme and TT $56,700 per client for the Youth
Development and Apprenticeship Centres.
However, higher cost per trainee does not necessarily imply
less effectiveness. Instead, an evaluation needs to understand
the additional increase in expected future wages that the pro-
URP and CEPEP
The two main employment creation programmes are sub-
stantial in size, but little is known about their impact. Both are
relatively large programmes where the size and activities are
not tied to labour market conditions in the private sector.
The Unemployment Relief Programme was originally targeted
at persons with low skill levels and low levels of educational
attainment such as ex-prison inmates.
Althoughit is nominally a short-term employment programme,
there is much anecdotal evidence that a large number of persons
spend their entire productive years of their lives on this pro-
gramme, which has thus strayed from its original concept given
the full employment context.
Ideally, each beneficiary would be hired on a temporary basis
if unemployed and would only receive an extension if economic
conditions deem it necessary.
The Community-Based Environmental Protection and
Enhanced Programme was created in 2004 and has more than
doubled in 10 years in cost, from TT$223 million in 2004 to
TT$468 million in 2013. Programme workers train for and
engage in beautification, preservation, and protection of the
environment. However, other agencies, in particular the regional
corporations, are involved in similar activities.
Policy Options and Implications
By far the largest concern of these programs is the lack of
monitoring and evaluation, particularly given that a substantial
part of the nation s budget goes to them. The Ministry of the
People and Social Protection has begun internally to develop
an integrated management information system to store all
information at the program level and ministry level. As a first
step, a biometrics card would be issued to beneficiaries which
would link to an an electronic database and would allow the
input of information into a centralized database.
Payments would be sent through the system, which could
also reduce possible fraud if it exists. Once adopted more broadly
within the ministry and across ministries, this would allow for
enough data to at least gauge duplication, monitor programme
use and understand the characteristics of beneficiaries.
Although a biometric card is a good start, more resources
need to be devoted to follow-ups.
Evaluation requires a household-type survey that could link
income and spending to
beneficiaries, before and after receiving benefits, and compare
to the rest of the population. Moreover, it would still not be
able to consider possible flaws in the design of the programmes.
Now every departmentof every ministry maintains different
processes, not all digitized; eventually the data could be transfered
across all platforms, and a one-stop portal could be created
which people can use to apply to all social programmes.
Moreover, there needs to be an interministerial policy committee
that looks at the effectiveness of the programmes as a whole.
The Ministry of the People and Social Protection can manage
duplication and redundancy of their programmes, but currently
they have no way of checking, for example, whether programmes
in the Ministry of Gender are targeting the same group as a
gender-specific benefit of another ministry. Once this cross-
checking is achieved and priorities set, it could allow for more
efficient budget programming for future years.
Macro implications of the generous welfare state
Many of these social programmes, while virtuous on their
own, are unfortunately part of an overgenerous state, which,
in recent years, has markedly increased their current transfers
and subsidies to households and public entities (from 9 to
more than 19 per cent of GDP in the decade ending in 2013).
This figure does not include the full cost of the fuel and elec-
tricity subsidies, which could be more than 6 per cent of
GDP and generally favour the wealthy (who consume more
fuels and electricity per capita).
The set of subsidies may also be eroding labour productivity.
Although there is still relatively sparse evidence, there are
increasing complaints of scarcity of productive unskilled labor
and a sense that many in the Community-Based Environmental
Protection and Enhanced Programme and the Unemployment
Relief Programme are employable in the private sector. Because
work effort in these programs is less well-monitored, and
somehouseholds may have sufficient benefits to afford a
decent standard of living without having to look for full-time
work,effective labour supply may be lower than demand.
Another side effect of generous benefits to training and tertiary
education is that many graduates are not able to find work
commensurate with their skills and have to settle for jobs
below their qualifications, which itself erodes skilled labor
The programmes therefore have to consider a dialogue with
the private sector about the types of jobs that will be needed,
particularly in more high-tech areas where Trinidad and
Tobago could create some value-addedto products and serv-
Training should be tied to prospective hiring. In this regard,
policies that lead to the attraction of more foreign investmentor
growth of dynamic export industries and link them more
closely to training could help boost economic activity whilein-
creasing the chance of placement of trainees.
More information on the impact of the social programmes
on poverty and household well-being is needed, and the IDB
is taking an active role by producing such surveys. This will
provide information to analyze options for streamlining or
redesigning programmes and make them more effective.
At present, the set of programmes, although well-inten-
tioned, may negatively impact the quality and quantity of
labour supply. Cross-country evidence shows that structural,
sustainable economic growth in the long term, which leads
to reduced structural poverty, occurs as a result of increased
labour productivity, not larger handouts.
URP, Cepep affecting labour market
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