SPEAKING at a post-budget analysis forum at the University Inn and Conference Centre in St. Augustine on Tuesday, economist and senior economics lecturer at the UWI Dr Roger Hosein chastised the government’s decision to raise wages for CEPEP and URP workers. Lamenting that the country needs to focus on fixing its labour force participation rate he said, “I don’t know that instituionalising a higher wage in CEPEP and URP is the best strategy.”
Describing the country’s declining labour force participation as a “big, ugly” problem to TT’s economy Hosein said, “I would have taken that same money and instead of increasing their (CEPEP and URP) nominal wages I would used it and give them some sort of training.”
Explaining that the country’s labour force participation rate is calculated by dividing its labour force by the number of persons in institutions such as prisons, hospitals and mental facilities, Hosein revealed the country’s labour force rate is 58.7 per cent, its lowest since 1990.
He urged citizens and those in government that this area needs more focus while saying, “You want to push your labour force participation rate.”
“With a significant portion of the population out of the labour force who are between the working ages of 16 and 65, then you will see things like an increase in the homicide rate in your country.”
Highlighting that globalisation is characterised by skills bias technological change he said, “I am assuming with all humility that no right thinking parent will plan for their kids to remain in CEPEP and URP longterm.”
He called for the CEPEP and URP programmes to be disincentived and called for strategies which will secure the workers sustainable and longterm job opportunities. This he said would be a more reasonsable approach so that people would “get out of CEPEP and URP.”
“No minister would want their son or daughter to remain locked into URP or CEPEP forever. Nonsense to me.”