As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage across the world with no sign of slowing down, a local behavioural change consultant says the State cannot continue to provide hand-outs to citizens without any productivity in exchange.
Claiming there is an urgent need for the Ministry of Social Development and Family Services to do exactly what its’ name says, Franklyn Dolly said greater efforts must be made to develop the skills and talents of the citizens of this country.
He said, “Just giving money to maintain people and there is no productivity out of it, is money that has to be spent every month and I do not think the State has that kind of funds to continue doing this.”
Claiming that everyone contributed in some way to the collection of taxes when they pay Value Added Tax, he suggested certain areas of the economy could be expanded to include persons who are currently unemployed.
Citing agriculture as one of the main sectors that would benefit from such an arrangement, Dolly explained, “All of these people who are able-bodied, could be placed into something where they can be productive. With COVID-19 and the need for social distancing, agriculture allows for this and also for them to produce a good which will go towards feeding the community and nation by extension.”
Others, he said could be absorbed in the manufacturing and production sectors, as they are taught canning and preserving fruits and vegetables, while the craft industry could also be tapped into.
Advocating for a psychological change across society, Dolly said citizens needed to stop thinking that someone must employ them, but rather that they possess skills they are selling to an employer.
He said, “That is the new psychology persons must have. Stop thinking that after I leave school, someone must employ me…no. You have to think…I have certain skills and knowledge that I can sell or rent.”
Confirming her ministry had already begun this transformation via the Sowing Empowerment through Entrepreneurial Development (SEED) Programme, Social Development and Family Services Minister Donna Cox revealed that during the pandemic period of March 16 to present – a total of 23 SEED grants totalling $319,538.89, were awarded to persons.
The SEED grant provides funding of up to $15,000 for approved start-ups in various sectors including agriculture, food and beverage, personal care services/products, printing and packaging as well as, retail services.
Presenting comparative figures for the period March to August 2019 as she said 112 applications had been received; Cox said 27 applications were received during March to August 2020.
She noted that a possible explanation was because, “The operations of the department which is responsible for processing the SEED grant were suspended to facilitate the assistance of the staff of that Division with the processing of COVID relief grants.”
A total number of SEED grants approved for fiscal 2020 was 26.