“The youths play a vital role in the constructive process of building social cohesion, economic prosperity and political stability in a nation in an inclusive and democratic way. The involvement of youths in the nation building process is a must as they play one of the most important roles.” Shreyasa Dhaka. The New Democratic Party (NDP) recognizes the importance of the youth to national development and will work closely with them and provide the opportunities necessary for their advancement.

The NDP is deeply concerned with the disrespect that is shown to the youths of St. Vincent and the Grenadines by the Unity Labour Party (ULP) government. They are labelled as lazy and are sometimes referred to as vagabonds by spokespersons for the government. This is not true about our youths. It is the ULP government that has disappointed them. The government has failed in its obligation to create the environment to provide sustainable jobs for the youths. The unemployment figures from the International Monetary Fund indicated that 46% of our young people are unemployed. What a shame!

The ULP regime only cares for the youths at general elections. Dr. Friday said it perfectly, “Our youths do not need a hand out; they need a hand up.” Public Relations Officer of the NDP, Lavern King, sums it up correctly, she stated, “I refuse to accept that whenever it is an election year that somebody comes and try to ‘pryme’ me up only for my vote and then forget about me after that. I refuse to accept it because I know that we can do better in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.” It would appear that there is an attempt to bribe the youths, as general elections approach but they will not fall for it; they are smarter than you think.

We have made it abundantly clear that our major priority is to create the environment to provide thousands of sustainable jobs for the youths of this country. We will implement a number of novel and innovative programmes and policies that will create an enabling environment for thousands of jobs to be created. For instance, the implementation of our Citizenship by Investment Programme will be an instant game changer for economic growth and development and job creation. We have seen the tremendous benefits that our neighbouring islands are reaping from that programme. The landslide victory of Team Unity in the recent general elections in St. Kitts and Nevis is due mainly to the success of the Citizen by Investment Programme.

The NDP has also identified Information Technology as another important area that will provide opportunities for our young people. We will place enormous emphasis on Information Technology to tackle the unemployment situation in this country which exists among our youths.

The NDP will continue to provide the opportunities for higher education for more young Vincentians to obtain degrees at home and abroad, create a diversify scholarship portfolio by providing incentives and scholarships for youths who excel in sports, the arts and extracurricular activities. We will also ensure that meaningful employment is created for these youths after they have completed their studies.

Further, we will encourage a culture of youth entrepreneurship and provide the environment for them to grow. We will establish a National Development Bank, to eliminate the credit problem and make financing more accessible and more affordable for local businesspeople, especially small businesses. Our youths will benefit immensely from this bank. This bank will also provide training and technical assistance in Agriculture, tourism, fisheries, small business development human resource development.

We will also focus on sports and skills training. Vincentians have seen the decline in these areas since the ULP took power in 2001. It is the intention of the NDP to revive these crucial areas of development, so that our youths can benefit. The NDP will restructure the schools’ curriculum so that sports education can again be a priority. More hard courts will be constructed, enclosed, lit and properly maintained to facilitate various sporting disciplines; at least one playing field in each constituency will be lit to encourage more participation in sports.

Our youths can rest assured that the NDP will not engage political victimization, nepotism and discrimination. We will introduce a system called, meritocracy. A meritocracy is a socio-political system that rewards persons on the basis of their skills, effort and performances and not by virtue of their affiliation to a political party, religious grouping, race or social class. Essentially, a meritocracy is based on merit. The concept of merit is synonymous with ability. Therefore, a person’s ability to perform at the requisite standard will attract the reward and opportunities associated with his or her position at the work place and in that person’s field of endeavour.

Merit can also be associated with praise and adulation for the propriety or good consequences of one’s actions. Hence, a meritocracy motivates persons not only to excel at the work place but generally to engage in conduct that can be considered praiseworthy. Accordingly, our youths can rest assured and feel comforted in the knowledge that upward mobility and career growth will be based primarily on performance.

In such a healthy environment trust and confidence will be restored and productivity will increase. The application of meritocratic principles in the public service will have the effect of influencing the private sector along similar lines. Essentially, persons will work harder to achieve greater rewards and the country will benefit from the increased goods and services that will be the products of improved skill and greater effort.

The NDP offers hope to our youths. The young people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines have an exciting future with the NDP. They have no choice but to vote for the NDP when the next general elections are called so that they can benefit from our stimulating programmes. As we make St. Vincent and the Grenadines work for all Vincentians.

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