Civil Society calls for strengthening of debushing and Imani Programmes

The Civil Society grouping has put forward some recommendations to the Committee of Social Partners for possible inclusion the 2016 National Budget that is due to be delivered on November 25.

Member of Civil Society, Sandra Ferguson, told a radio programme that one of their key concerns is the Imani Programme providing some form of employment for the nation’s youth, and the other is the debushing programme that provides seasonal employment for the poor and vulnerable in the society.

According to Ferguson, Civil Society would like to see the country getting a higher level of productivity and a greater value for money on the millions paid out in the programmes.

The debushing scheme, considered as one of government’s social safety net programmes, provides small-term employment to those who cannot find gainful long-term employment.

Ferguson said Civil Society has concerns about whether there is value for money to the taxpayers dollars and the sustainability of the programme.

Civil Society is advocating that the debushing programme be linked to disaster management and climate change, and to integrate a skills training programme as a component.

Ferguson indicated that the debushing programme is creating a lot of risk with regards to slides when it rains.

Government reportedly spends ten million dollars annually on the debushing programme.

With regards to the Imani Programme, Ferguson said Civil Society has some concerns about its long-term viability and the sustainability of some of the skills in which the young people

She said Civil Society has recommended a high value agriculture programme in collaboration with the T.A. Marryshow Community College, which operates the Agriculture Farm School at Mirabeau, St. Andrew’s to have a skills training programme over the 18-month life of the Imani Programme.

Apart from the debushing programme, and the Imani programme, Civil Society has put forward a comprehensive list of recommendations for consideration in the 2016 National Budget.

Ferguson said that in coming up with the recommendations, Civil Society took into consideration the significant economic and financial challenges that are being experienced by Grenadians.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Dr. Mitchell has announced that his government is planning to enroll another three thousand young people in the Imani Programme.

Dr. Mitchell who made the announcement during a Town Hall Meeting of Grenadian Nationals residing in Toronto, Canada last week Friday, said despite the “serious economic situation” Grenada is facing, the budget for the Imani Programme is likely to be increased this year.

In the last Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure, only $30,000 was budgeted for the Imani Programme.

“This year, we are putting on additional resources,” the Prime Minister told nationals in Canada.

Dr. Mitchell has consistently made reference to the importance of young people and their vote to keep the NNP in power.

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