Wayne Walker reports

Minister of Labour and Social Security, Karl Samuda, has announced a restructuring of the selection process for the much sought after overseas farm work programme.

Under the new arrangement, applicants will be placed in a pool which will be made up of MP recommended farmers from across the country.

The final selection of recipients for the program will be chosen from among this group using what the Minister says will be an equitable process.

Minister Samuda made the announcement during his contribution to the Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives yesterday.

The Minister says the current system is not serving the needs of Jamaicans.

Minister Samuda noted that of the thousands of recommendations being made, only a small portion of persons are being approved for the program.

He says this is giving false hope to many farmers.

The Minister further told the House that the current system lacked fairness.

He says MPs were issuing hundreds of cards and in many instances seeing less than 20 of their constituents chosen.

He pointed to data revealing that only 10-percent of yearly participants are new farmers.

That’s why he’s permitting MPs to have more say over the process of who gets selected for the recruitment pool.

Mr. Samuda says his Ministry has revoked all farm work cards issued in September of last year.

The Minister says the cards will now be re-issued to allow MPs to recommend a new cohort of 3-thousand 5-hundred farmers for consideration.

He says this will re-structure the pool to ensure equity.

Karl Samuda, Minister of Labour and Social Security.

He was speaking yesterday in the House of Representatives.

Meanwhile Mr. Samuda is urging people facing financial difficulties to contact the entity for assistance.

He says the Ministry is welcoming a large cohort of people with genuine needs.

The Minister is also seeking to assure Jamaicans the process by which to access the funds will be quick and smooth.

Minister Samuda likened the programme to the US relief package.

He’s also raising concern about what he says is limited records of people’s data.

Minister Samuda says this makes it difficult to disburse funds to those in need.

Karl Samuda, Minister of Labour and Social Security, speaking last evening on Nationwide @5.