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Ministerials Paragraphs Related to the Theme Paragraphs VII Summit
Date:  5/15/2012 
Strengthening the Social Safety Net
1. The Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Labour and Social Development have overseen the introduction of Unemployment Insurance in The Bahamas for the first time along with increasing budgetary allowance in 2010/2011 for social programmes. Unemployment insurance, a response to the negative externalities of the global recession, is payable up to a maximum of $200 per week for a period of 13 weeks while a qualified individual is searching for a job.
2. The Bahamas has launched on the 20th September, 2010, the National Prescription Drug Plan which provides, free-of-charge, over 160 prescription drugs and supplies to individuals suffering from one or more of eleven chronic diseases, including breast cancer, hyper tension, heart disease and high cholesterol.
3. The Government of The Bahamas has also focused on easing the burden of persistent unemployment, which has burgeoned due to the global recession, by implementing three policies:
I. A Jump Start Programme
4. This Programme was designed to encourage and assist young persons (under thirty years) seeking to start their own small business. One and a half million ($1.5 million) was earmarked to fund what is now a very successful Youth Self-Starter Programme. Additionally, seventy five hundred dollars ($7500.00) was granted to qualified citizens, over thirty years of age, to launch a business on the same premise and basic procedures as the Youth Self-Starter Programme.
II. A Work Placement & Employment Exposure Programme
5. In this Programme, private sector employers were encouraged to hire unemployed persons. These persons were given the unique opportunity to gain work experience, as well as on-the-job training and skills that would enhance their employability. The Bahamas Government provided the funding for this Programme in the private sector in the form of a direct wage subsidy. All employers who engaged new employees, referred to them by the Ministry of Labour and Social Development, were entitled to a wage subsidy of a percentage of that employee’s wages up to $210.00 per week for a period of fifty two (52) weeks. The employers were required to satisfy the requirement of the Ministry that new employment was created by presenting certified proof of NIB contributions in writing from the National Insurance Board.
III. A National Job Readiness and Training Programme
6. In recent times, the Ministry of Labour and Social Development introduced A National Job Readiness and Training Programme. The budget that was allocated for this Programme was twenty five million dollars ($25,000,000). This comprehensive and inclusive Programme helped stimulate the economy during the recession period. The Programme was designed to promote:-
• A Service and Productivity Improvement Thrust;
• A Retraining Thrust; and,
• An Apprenticeship Thrust.
7. The Service and Productivity Improvement Thrust of this Programme targeted one thousand (1000) young unemployed persons. This phase was designed to equip young citizens for job interviews, with good work attitudes, and advise them on how they should present themselves in the workplace. The lack of literacy and tradable skills were also targeted during these sessions. The fifty two (52) weeks Programme included both recent graduates and persons out of high school for one year.
8. The Retraining Thrust of the Job Programme enrolled one thousand (1000) more mature citizens for a period of fifty two (52) weeks. The goal of this Programme was to upgrade and improve existing skills which these citizens may have already possessed. This thrust also encouraged persons to acquire new skills to enable them to make the transition into new fields of employment. The success of this retraining thrust was evident in the way these persons exhibited pride and dignity in their work.
9. The Apprenticeship Thrust which represented the third prong assisted one thousand (1000) persons with acquiring both basic and advance technical skills on the job. These persons were able to develop these skills by working in specified areas in the private and public sector where shortage of workers existed. These fields included but were not limited to:
• Teachers’ aide
• After school and playground monitors
• Neighbourhood watch workers
• Medical technicians
• Health assistants
• Data entry personnel
• Construction workers
• Landscaping technicians
• Information technology technicians
• Elderly care providers
Paragraphs: 10 Paragraphs VII Summit: -

Date:  5/15/2012 
V. Supporting efforts to address malnutrition

39. The Ministry of Health monitors indices of malnutrition in various populations throughout the Country. School Health monitors indices in children in Grades 1, 6 and 10. The Maternal and Child Health Programme monitors indices in infants, children and ante-natal women. The chronic non-communicable disease Programme monitors indices in CNCD patients. The Programmes that address malnutrition span a number of national Programmes and involve key Partners and Agencies to correct nutritional problems in these populations.
40. Social programmes that address nutritional needs cover infants through to the elderly, including those in institutional settings. The School Lunch Programme brings healthy meals to children from poor and lower-income families. Of greater concern are the numbers of persons that are nutritionally challenged by the consumption of foods high in saturated fats and sugars with poor nutritional value, resulting in increasing levels of overweight and obesity. School health programmes have identified an increasing number of overweight and obese children upon entry into school, which is increasing yearly and proportionately within cohorts as they age through Grade 10. The focus on school gardens, by which to increase the intake of fresh fruit and vegetables by students, requires continued commitment and further integration into the school systems throughout the Country to expand their availability to all students.
41. The main national thrust to address malnutrition is undertaken by the Ministry of Health. However, the Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources has supported the Garden Based Learning Programme of the Ministry of Education, which was supported by the FAO. Additionally, some schools were provided with greenhouses to assist with agricultural programmes.

42. The Ministry of Labour and Social Development has indicated, concerning nutrition, that the chef at the Simpson Penn and Willie-Mae Pratt Centres has been able to revise the menus for the residents with the aid of the nutritionist at the Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre, thus providing more nutritious and balanced meals.
Paragraphs: 8 Paragraphs VII Summit: -

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