Hustle Truck operation may expand with private investment, says Burch
National Security Minister David Burch yesterday said the Hustle Truck could be expanded after the private sector stepped forward when Government's funds ran dry.
Senator Burch complained the “outcry” over the venture's apparent demise had in fact come from critics of the initiative as he spoke during the Senate's Budget debate on his Ministry yesterday.
But he said talk of it being scrapped sparked after Junior Minister Michael Weeks said its funding was being slashed to zero was wide of the mark.
“The private sector responded positively to the call for assistance,” Sen Burch told the Upper House.
He said he would soon announce a private-public partnership to ensure “at least a full renewal if not an expansion of the programme”.
During the National Security debate in the House of Assembly earlier this month, United Bermuda Party MPs Trevor Moniz and Charlie Swan had praised the Hustle Truck and said it should not be axed; Cabinet Minister Zane DeSilva responded by calling for businesses to come forward to save it.
Sen Burch reflected yesterday: “The furore that followed the presentation of this budget in another place was from those who criticised the Hustle Truck from the beginning.”
He said their “outcry” would have carried more weight if they'd stated they had an epiphany on the subject.
“I look forward to hearing that today,” he said.
Shadow National Security Minister Michael Dunkley later replied by describing the Hustle Truck as a success story, saying: “The Government should have been applauded for implementing this programme a number of years ago.”
Senator Dunkley continued: “I do believe it's a necessary and good programme. I do believe it takes people off the street and gives them an opportunity to put money in their pocket and start to learn some of the things you are going to need to be successful to get a job in the private sector and hold onto that position.”
The former UBP leader called for more information on how the Hustle Truck is going to work moving forward.
The Hustle Truck gives up to 60 unemployed people at any one time tasks such as cleaning graffiti and renovating Bermuda Housing Corporation properties; it's hoped this will ease them into full-time employment.
It was allocated $1.7 million in 2008-09, and $1 million in each of the following two years before seeing its funding removed as one of a swathe of Government cuts for 2011-12.