Jobs creation; the provision of a social safety net for youth, seniors, and the vulnerable; and the stimulation of social and economic activity in Barbados are among the top priorities for Government in the coming year.
Governor General Dame Sandra Mason emphasised these when she delivered the Throne Speech at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre on Tuesday.
Acknowledging that Government’s support would be across multiple sectors, she noted it would also be directed at generating the movement of money within the local economy, keeping citizens engaged in lawful activity, and providing much needed incomes for them until the country starts earning foreign exchange again.
Dame Sandra pointed out that where Government’s initial response revolved around supporting households with the Adopt-A-Family and other similar programmes, it must now go further with the implementation of a $40 million COVID Relief programme, which will run for the next year.
“People’s need to work goes beyond receiving a pay cheque. A job helps to give our lives purpose, a sense of security and promotes mental wellness. In plain language, our men and women must have options. They both have an intrinsic desire to provide for their families and to have lives of dignity,” the Governor General said.
“The COVID Relief Programme will be designed to ensure that people in the country have work to which they can go. While the private sector fights to restore a level of economic activity and provide jobs, Government will play its part to ensure that the largest number of people possible is able to support their families. These jobs will be provided by contracting persons for 12 months, to carry out a range of activities across Barbados that are required to improve the quality of our life, our environment and our infrastructure,” Dame Sandra said.
She shared that examples of these activities would include the hiring of monitors in primary schools; persons engaged to assist workers of the National Assistance Board in providing services for the elderly; and the completion of the “Where Am I?” project, that would see signs erected across all roads and communities.
The Governor General said the enhancement of Barbados’ food security through the engagement of persons to work at the island’s agricultural stations; and the allocation of allotments for agricultural production to persons living in urban Barbados, through the soon to be established public private partnership of the Lears Urban Land Lease and Food Security Project, would also provide jobs.
Other work to come under the relief programme would come with “the restoration of methods” to resuscitate soils and fields; the prevention of water runoff and erosion; the protection of Barbados’ infrastructure through the establishment of contracts to build gabions to secure the Scotland District from land slippage and erosion; the repairing of pot holes and cleaning of wells and watercourses, gullies and beaches; the debushing of unkempt lots and removal of derelict properties; and the repair and construction of sidewalks.
Stressing that Government was committed to easing the pain of those hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, Dame Sandra said individuals would be contracted as self-employed persons for this job work and would be required to pay their National Insurance.