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Samuel's Story

A Tragic Accident and Ebola Robbed Him of Many Things – But Not His Hope for the Future.

By the time Samuel* was 15 he had already lost his father to war, his mother and grandmother to Ebola, and his leg to a tragic accident. He was an orphan who was cast aside by his community and locked away by his remaining family. Samuel had nothing and no one cared.

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Government must take action now following Minister’s comments on skills

The recent comments by Education Minister, Curtis King, is an admission that the ULP government has failed to implement an effective Technical, Vocational, Educational Training (TVET) program.

In an interview earlier this week, the Minister of Education called for the education system to be revamped, with a greater focus on TVET. He said there was an ‘urgent’ need for reform. He made these comments following a visit to Germany and the Netherlands with his OECS colleagues to explore their education systems.

Commenting on the statement by the Minister, NDP’s spokesperson for Education, the Honorable Terrence Ollivierre, said, “Finally the government has acknowledged what the NDP and experts have been saying for years that we need to ensure there is a joint approach between education and the world of work. It’s a pity that the Minister had to travel to Europe to find out what people here have been saying for years. Our educators are doing a fantastic job and deserve a government that takes action instead of just more talk.”

Leader of the Opposition and President of the NDP. Honorable Dr Godwin Friday, said, “While it is good to see the ULP finally acknowledging what we have been saying about the need to do more to help the young people of St Vincent and the Grenadines, This sudden awakening is a case of too little, too late. We have been proposing improvements for years on how to tackle this issue before it grew worse. The government ignored us. Now, the Minister  has finally now acknowledged, we need to do more to ensure our young people acquire the skills needed to find fulfilling and sustainable jobs”

Dr Friday further stated, “The NDP’s commitment to the need for improvement of the education system has been set out repeatedly. Commitments were contained in the 2020 manifesto, and this has been reinforced by written questions submitted in parliament by MPs from the Opposition. I also did a National Address on education, which called for training facilities and support for TVET.

With four in ten  young people currently unemployed in SVG and 37% of youth living in poverty the government has clearly failed to help young people. It is time to  implement a plan that will truly benefit the young people of SVG. An NDP government would:

  1. Introduce a National Youth Guarantee, giving all young people the opportunity of a job, a training program or work placement.
  2. Improve the YES program by raising the basic rate to $650 and encourage businesses to match the payment, doubling the wage to $1,300.
  3. Provide skills training in local community centers, giving those pursuing careers in trades such as electricians or plumbers a place to learn their skills.
  4. Reduce the interest rate of student loan from 8.5% to 4.5%, or lower.
  5. Provide grants to young people opening businesses through our Development Bank and provide them with support through a new business park and innovation hub.
Young people in SVG with Dr Godwin Friday in the middle of a line

The ULP Government Has Failed Young People

The ULP Government has failed young people.

 It is time for a national campaign to enable young people to make a good life for themselves in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The New Democratic Party (NDP) believes that a large number of young people leave our shores because of the harsh economic conditions in the country. Youth unemployment remains one of the highest in the region. Four (4) out of ten (10) young people are unemployed. St Vincent and the Grenadines’ poverty rate is higher than the average (23%) for the Eastern Caribbean. More than 1 in 3 children and 37% of youth live in poverty in SVG.

Commenting on the situation, President of the NDP, and Leader of the Opposition Honourable Dr Godwin Friday, said, “The ULP government has failed our young people. Addresse after 22 years in government they offer no hope and no plan for the future. By every metric, the government is failing our young people.  Youth unemployment is alarmingly high. Our migration rate is among the highest in the Eastern Caribbean and poverty remains a fact of life for too many young people.

I want to create a future where everyone who chooses to live in St. Vincent and the Grenadines has the opportunity to do so and have a quality life. The NDP will increase training in key sectors, invest in new businesses, cut student interest rates to make it easier to go to college and ensure that every young person has an opportunity to develop their skills and prospects here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”

Dr Friday added, “My colleagues and I will be talking with young persons throughout the country to hear first-hand the issues they are facing and how we can work together to address them.”

The NDP demands government’s plan to save NIS

It is only through full transparency and accountability that everyone – opposition, trade unions, and pensioners – can understand the scale of the reform required and the state of the fund.

The 11th Actuarial Review recommends the need for urgent reform. Moreover, recent media reports about the use of the fund for political purposes makes it clear that it is only through full accounting that the scale of reform can be fully understood.

Recommendations to shore up the declining NIS were made in the 11th Actuarial Review, but the government has failed to implement any of these measures to protect people’s pensions or set out any plans for reform.

The government has been told repeatedly by the IMF, the World Bank and the NIS actuary that it needs reform – but it has failed to take the tough decisions or take any action whatsoever.  Because of the government’s lack of action, the NIS is in crisis. This is a mess of the government’s own making.

The NDP is committed to the long-term sustainability of the fund and wants to protect those who need support, while the government has failed to take action.

We demand to see the government’s plan for NIS reform.

Our principles for reform are simple:

  • It should be a stand-alone entity with the sole aim to act in the best long-term interests of its members.
  • Investment decisions and fund management decisions should be made by an independent board.
  • Assets and other investments should only be undertaken or divested if demonstrably in the best interests of the fund.
  • Under any reforms, no person currently in the scheme should be worse off than they are at present.
  • Transparency should be at the heart of everything the NIS does.  Regular updates, in a form and manner that is easily understood should be provided regularly to all.

Recently, Camillo Gonsalves said in Parliament that the government would implement NIS and pension reforms beginning in budget year 2024. However, the Executive Director of the NIS has said reform will have to be made before 2024 in order to avoid “draconian changes”, such as an increase in contribution rates by 10 per cent.

President of the NDP, Honourable Dr Godwin Friday, said, “The threat that faces the NIS is a problem created by the lack of action of the ULP. The ULP has been in charge of the NIS; they cannot blame anyone for the current problem. The government has been sleepwalking into this crisis.  The Minister of Finance said that reforms were needed. When will the government outline its plan so that everyone can understand the long-term implications? The government must stop playing politics and put the country first. Everyone will suffer the consequences.”

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Public Relations Officer Lavern King