Letters to the Editor

'Make Work' project an expensive folly

Thursday, September 13, 2012    

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Dear Editor,

There is an activity called "Make Work", a pastime indulged in by short-sighted governments anxious to retain cheap popularity. It is a process in which the state creates a position primarily to keep someone from being idle. The post is not necessarily productive of value, but it provides a wage or salary.

It is one thing when politicians practise "Make Work", but when supposedly responsible business organisations join in this expensive folly, there is cause for consternation. We are told that the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce has established an understanding with the political directorate to persuade business people throughout the island to put at least one more person on their payroll in order to provide 40,000 unspecified jobs. This is the MOU's answer to the nation's need for economic growth.

To judge the merit of this nebulous exercise, one has only to look back three months ago when the government's job placement and training agency - HEART Trust/NTA - announced that close to 100,000 employment opportunities were available with few takers. The Labour Survey, which canvassed 100 occupational areas across nine major sectors, revealed that "... many persons out of work and seeking jobs are either not trained or not interested in the areas that are awash in jobs."

As reported in the press a few months ago, the government's own assessment shows that "some 31,600 persons were seeking jobs in areas where there are no vacancies" and that "the agriculture sector...has some 44,497 jobs on offer but no takers."

It seems that the government is at its wits' end. At this stage, Jamaica is desperately in need of investments that will provide employment opportunities and significantly expand the Jamaican productive sector. For this the government has an obligation to create conditions that will attract new businesses and encourage existing entrepreneurs. Instead, it is proposing to place further burdens on those already struggling to keep afloat. On top of that, at a time when it should be curbing public sector employment it is, with the collaboration of the Chamber of Commerce, offering taxpayers' money to subsidise a "Make Work" programme.

Kenneth Jones






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