Saboto Caesar, the youngest elected Member of Parliament in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, on Sunday portrayed the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) as the choice for Vincentian youth in the upcoming general elections.
“There is not a single young person under the age of 35 on the NDP (New Democratic Party) slate of candidates. Not a single one,” Caesar told the ULP Youth Arm Convention in Kingstown.
“What this is saying, they don’t have trust and confidence in the young people. Not only they do not have a young person, they do not have a single woman on their slate of candidates.
“This should mean a lot to the young women who are here with us this afternoon,” said Caesar, who was the featured speaker at the event.
The 34-year-old Caesar, who is also Minister of Agriculture, said that his 1-year-old son will have more opportunities growing up under the ULP than he (the older Caesar) did growing up under the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP).
He said this is because of the “policies and programmes that the ULP has created for this country.
“That is the reality,” said Caesar, who is seeking a second consecutive term in office as MP for South Central Windward.
“Your daughter and my son are guaranteed a seat in a secondary school, reducing the number of marginalised and vulnerable,” he told the convention in Kingstown.
He said the ULP administration’s one laptop per student initiative has exposed Vincentian children to technology at an early age.
Caesar, a national scholar, told party supporters that under a ULP administration, their children will not attend half-day school like he and Carlos James, ULP candidate for North Leeward, did under the NDP administration.
“Instead, they will be positioned to benefit from the hundreds of scholarships available to our students all over the world.
“Growing up, it was unimaginable under the NDP, to have a fellow villager being fluent in Mandarin. Now it is an ordinary thing. Spanish is now commonplace in our communities,” said Caesar, a lawyer.
He told the Unity Youths that their children and his will grow up in an SVG that is linked directly to the rest of the world through the international airport under construction at Argyle.
Caesar said that since the ULP came to office in 2001, almost 4,000 young persons have been trained under the party’s youth empowerment programme, and 1,200 nurses have been trained.
“In the last 5 years, we must be reminded that approximately 400 young persons have gone off to universities, thanks to the student loan programme,” he said, adding that economically disadvantaged Vincentians continue to benefit from the initiative.
Young farmers, Caesar said, can get a loan at 2 per cent interest with zero security as a result of the government’s farmers’ support initiative.
Of the loan recipients, 75 are under the age of 35 and hundreds are younger than 40, Caesar said.
He said that hundreds of young persons continue to benefit from reasonable housing under the ULP’s housing programmes.
“When a parent benefits from a no- or low-income house or from the Lives to Live programme, the children and youth in the household also benefit,” he said.
“It is for these reasons and others why the young people from Fancy to Union Island are saying Labour.
“Indeed, it is a great time to be young.
“The youngest among us here today will have many more years to fulfil their dreams through these opportunities — opportunities which were not present when our political leader was our age,” Caesar said in reference to Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, who turns 69 in August.
Gonsalves has said elections will be held this year, ahead of the March 2016 constitutional deadline.