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Rambachan declares end to URP waste
Works Minister Suruj Rambachan says there will be a crackdown in overspending and bureaucracy in the Unemployment Relief Programme (URP) this year. The minister warned of the crackdown when he gave the feature address at a graduation ceremony for 90 participants in a URP entrepreneurship training programme done in partnership with Nedco. He said he was going to ensure that taxpayers’ dollars are not wasted in the URP programme even if it means personally taking up a managerial role at the URP head office.
Rambachan said too many people are dependent on URP jobs and were not taking advantage of the numerous training opportunities in the programme to equip themselves for sustainable long term employment.
“The URP programme was never meant to be a full-time long term job. Unfortunately that type of element has come into the programme and the programme manager has been instructed that this is not a place for people to come and settle in a long term job. This is a place where people come to learn to work and would be weaned and put into jobs.”
Rambachan said OAS, the contractors building the Point Fortin highway, has indicated that 680 workers including232 carpenters and 360 steelbenders, are required to work on the project in the next few weeks. He said people should be taking advantage of training programmes so they could get these jobs, rather than aiming to collect $70 a day with the URP He said: “Yet people want to just get a ride in terms of the URP programme. The days for the free ride in the URP programme are done.”
Rambachan expressed concern about the quality of supervision on URP projects. He said taxpayers pay $400 million a year, of which $44 million is paid in salaries to programme managers. He also warned there was too many overheads in the programme and said he would be calling on URP managers to account.
Rambachan said every month 75 new community projects are supposed come on board for approval but this has not been happening. He blamed that problem on public servants who were moving too slow or messing up paper work. “Too often papers are misplaced and lost. This has to stop,” he said.
The minister said a public servant at the URP head office had locked his office and had been missing for two weeks, preventing contractors from getting their letters of awards. He said “2013 is the death of that kind of behaviour.” Rambachan said the URP graduates are on the road to empower themselves and will eventually be able to bid for contracts on the programme. He said he was not going to allow the graduates to be frustrated with bureaucracy.
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