A paper titled: Public Employment Programmes: A Comparative Analysis of their Impact on Socio-Economic Welfare of Households and Individuals in Argentina, India and South Africa, was presented by an Associate Professor in the School of Built Environment and Development Studies, Professor Oliver Mtapuri, as part of the School’s seminar series.
Mtapuri addressed the discourse on development and how it has morphed over time with a shift away from the era of the ‘Lewisian path’. He argued that capital accumulation and growth which rely solely on technology had been unable to ensure sustainable livelihoods for marginalised people resulting in a shift towards targeted interventions to alleviate poverty and reduce inequality.
‘This shift has seen a concomitant shift by international agencies to advocate for active government intervention to assist the marginalised with targeted interventions in the name of “inclusive growth” - growth which reduces economic, political and social inequalities. The overarching aim of this project is to contribute to broader international academic and policy discussions on whether public employment programmes provide a basis for inclusive growth,’ he explained.
Mtapuri spoke about the Universal Child Allowance (AUH) of Argentina, the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) of India and the Expanded Public Works Programme of South Africa project which analyses trends in social spending for poverty alleviation, inequality reduction, and strengthening of human capital and investigates opportunities for the establishment of new employment and livelihood strategies in these countries.
He believes that Public works can span various social and economic sectors. ‘The benefits of public works include asset creation, an income, reduction in the intensity of poverty, participation in the labour market, transforming women’s unpaid labour into paid employment, community participation, political expediency and so forth. The impacts of public works are diminished by the short duration of the interventions and the limited employment opportunities so created. Paucity of micro-finance militates against the formation of small enterprises.’