PM Douglas rubbishes criticism of his Government’s help to young people, vows to stand by their side

Photo 1 – St. Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas at the launching of the People Empowerment Programme (PEP) last year.(Photo by Erasmus Williams)

St. Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister the Right Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas has rubbished opposition criticism over his continued passion for young people and use of SIDF funds to finance the People Empowerment Programme (PEP).

Responding to a caller during his recent radio programme "Ask the Prime Minister" that among the critics was PAM activist, Mrs. Silvene Henry who time and time again urged the PM on the programme to find employment for the young people, Dr. Douglas said he continues to have a passion for young people and with the assistance of two Jamaican experts, the PEP programme will become sustainable.


Photo 2 – St. Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas takes a call as he was speaking with youths on Fort Street during his usual Friday walk in Basseterre. (Photo by Keethon France)

"I think that we have been caught up in almost a global worldwind; a prolonged deep recession has affected the prospects of life for the people of St. Kitts and Nevis. And that has troubled me and it has also motivated me to stay on to do what I can do with my vast experience and my deep concern and passion that I have for the advancement of our young people," Prime Minister Douglas said.

He said he has a 24-year-old son.

"He is a young man. I have a passion for young people and when people like Silvine Henry and I want to name her (because) week after week, (she) comes onto this programme and urges me, ‘Mr. Prime Minister when are you going to find something for young people to do? How are you going to help them?’

And now we have found a way to help these same young people, Silvine Henry, the spokesperson for PAM and Operation Rescue, is saying to us that we are wasting too much money on ‘Dem Dey’ referring of course to the human Resource that collectively is our young people.

"That can’t be right. That could not be right. How could PAM, Operations Rescue and now the Pam Labour Party refer through the mouth of Silvine Henry as wasting too much money on ‘Dem Dey’ referring to our young people as ‘Dem Dey’," Prime Minister Douglas told listeners.

Dr. Douglas declared that the money that is being used to finance the PEP programme belongs to the young people.

"They are our future and I don’t care what criticisms I get from PAM, Operation Rescue which has now been re-styled as the Pam Labour Party. I don’t care what criticisms I get from them to help our young people; I will spend millions of dollars on them because they are the future of our country.

I have no apologies to make in supporting the SIDF to finance the PEP Programme. I want to commend again the counsellors, the members of the Board of the SIDF," said Prime Minister Douglas.

Dr. Douglas used the opportunity to commend the Chief Executive Officer and the Management Team for supporting the Government’s thrust to ensure that the young people do not get all caught up in a life of drift and anti-social behaviour.

"I don’t care how much millions of dollars it is, as long as it is properly accounted for and as long as I can see that it is being used to bring opportunities for our young people to learn and get new skills, and upgrade the skills of our nationals, we will spend those millions of dollars," said the Prime Minister, who pointed out that countries like Germany which is the economic power house of Europe has been very critical of her European colleagues in recent weeks for their own sluggish economic performance.

He said one of the things that Germany has been advocating for other European countries is that they need to invest massively in job training, skills acquisition and apprenticeship programmes.

"This is exactly what we are doing here in St. Kitts and Nevis. That is why when we called upon Jamaica to come in and assist us with our People’s Empowerment Programme and to make it sustainable. We are very pleased to have the service of Dr. Andre Gordon and Dr. Beverly Morgan to come to our support and rescue," said the St. Kitts and Nevis leader.

"We have now learnt of similar programmes started in Jamaica and have survived, so to we want the PEP Initiative here to survive for the benefit of our young people," said Prime Minister Douglas.

"I will stand on the side of the young people, I will stand with them and whatever money there is that we can afford to help advance their cause, we shall do so," said Dr. Douglas, who related that on his usual Friday afternoon walk on Fort Street he was stopped by some young ladies on the sidewalk (outside RBTT Bank).

"Every single one of them was glowing in their faces. One, who was older, was fully employed and the other three had just left CFBC and they were already being trained in the PEP," said Prime Minister Douglas, who dedicated the programme to them and the PEP attendees and trainees.