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«Medium-Term Policy Framework 2011-2014 Ministry of Planning and the Economy October 2011 Table of Contents PREFACE BY THE MINISTER OF PLANNING AND ...»

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The level of inequality as measured by the Gini-Coeficient has remained relatively unchanged over the last decade. The 2005 Survey of Living Conditions indicated that the Gini-coefficient was 0.39 and that the poverty gap was 4.6 per cent. Based on the 2008/2009 Household Budgetary Survey, indications are that the level of poverty has in fact increased by approximately two (2) per cent between 2005 and 2009. What this means is that the most recent energy boom did nothing to reduce poverty and that the financial/economic crisis of 2008-2009 exacerbated the situation. This Government makes a commitment that the level of poverty in this country will be reduced.

In Trinidad and Tobago, the groups identified as most vulnerable to poverty are:

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There is also an observed intergenerational transfer of poverty. Poverty is directly related to unemployment as individuals as well as households require income to sustain an adequate standard of living. Investment, business creation and growth of the economy are, therefore, absolutely essential so that jobs and income can be generated and strategies need to be developed to encourage investment and entrepreneurial initiatives in poverty stricken areas.

The provision of housing is critical to achieving the broader objective of poverty reduction.

The housing problem in Trinidad and Tobago is two-fold. Firstly, there is an insufficient supply of adequate and suitable housing to meet current and future needs. Secondly, there is an issue of affordability, which is intrinsically linked to a supply-demand imbalance and which continues to be of great concern. According to the Trinidad and Tobago Housing Development

Calculations are based on a population size of 1.3 million

Innovation for Lasting Prosperity 82 Medium-Term Policy Framework 2011 - 2014 Corporation (HDC), there are approximately 130,000 applicants for housing. Over 50 per cent of these applicants fall below the minimum TT$4,000 monthly income ceiling for accessing housing. The housing plight is further expressed in what seems to be a growing epidemic of squatting.

The Land Settlement Agency has estimated that towards the end of 2010, there were 300 known squatter settlements across both islands comprising approximately 300,000 squatters, constituting approximately 24 per cent of the population.

An enduring solution to the problems in the housing sector and its impact on poverty can only be found through implementation of an integrated and holistic housing policy that incorporates concepts such as community creation, innovation and sustainability. It is with this in mind that the goal of the housing policy is to create a housing system that provides access to decent and affordable housing for all and communities which are socially, economically and environmentally sustainable.

Government is committed to ensuring that there is a decent roof over every citizen’s head, that every individual has a home that is fit for the future and that we all live in decent neighbourhoods.


A major effort will be mounted by Government to reduce the level of poverty, with the intention of eradicating this phenomenon in the long-term. The strategy is to break the cycle of poverty, enable self sufficiency and create opportunities for wealth generation. Government

will, therefore, take the necessary actions to:

1. Restructure the economy to provide meaningful income-generating opportunities for sections of the population that have traditionally operated on the margins of the economy;

2. Increase access to adequate and affordable housing;

3. Empower the poor and target the most vulnerable groups in society for social support with direct impact on a family by family basis;

4. Strengthen social capital at the community level; and

5. Build our human capital through education, training and skills building.

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• Implement initiatives to stimulate the construction sector and create high value production systems in the agriculture, manufacturing, tourism, craft, fashion and ICT sectors as well as in new strategic areas

• Streamline skills-training to match the needs of expanding sectors, ensuring a greater production and absorption of skilled workers into the labour force

• Continuous review of the minimum wage through a functional Minimum Wage Board, taking into account proxies that reflect economic performance and cost of living

• Enhance sustainable livelihood strategies of both rural and urban households such as encouraging self-help initiatives to mitigate poverty

• Create industries that will allow women to work at home with flexible hours but meeting targets and objectives within a specified timeframe supported by training and development

• Train people participating in make-work programmes to facilitate their stepping up from poverty into economic and financial self sustainability.

Strategy: Increase Access to Adequate and Affordable Housing Apart from fulfilling man’s basic need for shelter, owning a home empowers the poor through the acquisition of an asset and also facilitates socio-economic participation. Appropriate housing solutions will be provided through collaboration and joint venture arrangements with small, medium and large contractors, focusing primarily on poor and low and middle income

households. In addition, Government will:

• Review existing financial arrangements such as the provision of grants, subsidies and mortgages in order to further alleviate the issues of affordability and accessibility, particularly among poor and low income households

• Transform squatter settlements through upgrade and regularisation, into more planned, sustainable communities to reduce the plight of squatters in accordance with the Squatter Regularisation Act No. 25 of 1998

• Review existing legislation and adopt public awareness initiatives in order to contain further squatting Innovation for Lasting Prosperity 84 Medium-Term Policy Framework 2011 - 2014

• Use skills assessment centres as a basis for retooling, reskilling and upgrading the skills of unskilled workers These strategies will be implemented alongside other broad measures to ensure that housing provision is sustainable, contributes to successful development of communities and incorporates the innovation thrust of Government’s overall policy. The first of these measures will be to encourage innovation in building design, construction and finance of HDC homes. Sustainability and sustainable living will be incorporated by ensuring that housing and community designs utilise the natural environment and use energy efficiently; and that there is a focus on best practices in green and environmentally-friendly buildings through recycling and conservation methods. Government will move to endorse as a benchmark for green building a Green Building Index to be enforced through the implementation of a Code for Construction Quality Acceptance for energy efficient building projects.

Secondly, the existing housing stock will be retrofitted to ensure energy efficiency and environmental compliance. An Urban Regeneration and Renewal Programme will encourage all income groups to inhabit Port of Spain through the provision of a wide range of housing types and the improvement of the existing housing areas. To promote building of new communities that are integrated and sustainable, a key feature of new HDC developments will be communities that are equipped with community centres, homework centres and play parks.

Housing solutions will aim to maximise the use of the existing building stock by utilising vacant properties wherever possible. The Land Distribution Policy will be revisited as a viable option to satisfying the demand for accommodation.

Strategy: Empower the Poor and Target the Most Vulnerable Groups A developmental approach will be adopted so that persons can graduate out of poverty as opposed to the creation of a sense of dependency. The focus will be on the prevention of poverty by targeting the most vulnerable through early intervention to break the cycle of

intergenerational poverty. Measures to be taken include:

• Restructure social safety net programmes to improve targeting and delivery and avoid duplication

• Place emphasis on the development of healthy functional families, with the provision of food support, counselling, skills training and other financial initiatives, offering much needed social support to improve the quality of life of society’s most vulnerable

• Provide support to differently-abled persons through greater financial assistance and by

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Strategy: Strengthen Social Capital at the Community Level This strategy recognises that collective action can build strong, self-sufficient, cohesive communities which are in turn the building blocks of a stable society. The objective is to enhance synergies that provide social support, employment opportunities and facilitate

community development. Among the actions to be taken are:

• Engage Civil Society and private sector entities to improve and expand basic infrastructure within deprived communities. This will serve to improve housing quality, increase access to basic utilities (such as water and sanitary facilities) and to increase access to basic services (such as education and health care). These partnerships will also seek to develop community infrastructure such as community centres to facilitate lifelong learning and recreation. In addition, these PPP will facilitate the building of community spirit as well as self-reliant, sustainable communities

• Establish Regional Plans for development to reduce the rural/urban divide in respect of infrastructural development and build communities through citizen participation

• Establish holistic, sustainable communities. The Government will ensure that communities have easy access to basic services, such as education and health care.

In addition, it will facilitate community development through the establishment of community centres and recreational facilities (such as parks) to foster the building of community spirit

• Build partnerships by working with all stakeholders, through consultations and community involvement to develop relevant strategies and assess poverty through research and data gathering

• Support community enhancement projects where the spirit of volunteerism and community commitment are evident Innovation for Lasting Prosperity 86 Medium-Term Policy Framework 2011 - 2014 Figure 6 Key Results Poverty Reduction

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The foundational element in building human capital is education. However, a critical reorientation of our education system must be effected in order to foster the development of global citizens who can interact and compete on the world stage. The deficiencies within the education sector must, therefore, be addressed if our country is to build its human capital to meet the requirements of a 21st Century economy.

A major goal of the Government is to achieve Universal Early Childhood Education by 2015.

Furthermore, given the importance of Mathematics, English and the Sciences to basic literacy, numeracy, scientific thinking, innovation and ultimately human capital development, smart interventions to increase passes in these subjects must be adopted.

At the primary school level, the number of children scoring 30 per cent and below in Mathematics, Language and Creative Writing at the Secondary Entrance Examination (SEA) must be reduced. In 2011, this group numbered 1,718 students out of 17,280 students writing the exam which amounted to 9.9 per cent. This represented a marginal decrease from the previous year, 2010, which had a percentage of 11.6 per cent or 2,000 students; however, the Innovation for Lasting Prosperity 88 Medium-Term Policy Framework 2011 - 2014 numbers are still unacceptably high. At the secondary school level, the percentage of students passing Mathematics, English, Chemistry, Physics, Biology and Integrated Sciences must also be increased. During the period 2008-2010, passes in Mathematics were under 50 per cent and for English Language the rate averaged 57 per cent.

Overall, at the primary and secondary school levels, apart from the need for literacy and numeracy development, curricula reform, education administration reform, access to education and quality teaching are also central to reforms within the education system. Priority attention is being given to the development of new, modern subject areas and methods of learning as well as new teaching methodologies that are technology focused - to which today’s youth can relate and adapt easily. In addition, the reform efforts will focus on strengthening teacher training and succession planning as well as effectively addressing the administrative bottlenecks within the education system in order to facilitate better management of schools.

A very significant component of the reform effort is the integration of ICT throughout the school system. Government has already initiated the process through the e CAL Project. These reforms will impact upon the quality of education delivery and the school environment. The receptivity of students towards learning as well as the inculcation of values and attitudes such as lifelong learning and productivity will build human capital and create citizens who will make a positive contribution to society.

The drop-out rate at secondary schools must also be addressed. This rate stood at two (2) per cent or approximately 2,000 students for the 2008/2009 academic year. This number has significant implications for developing our human capital since these dropouts if not aided, may fall into poverty or begin a life of crime. This highlights the importance of promoting values such as lifelong learning and productivity at the primary school level.

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