Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves on Sunday outlined his Unity Labour Party’s seven-point Agenda for Youth Empowerment (AYE).
“I want to summarise for you and provide some guidance on an agenda for youth empowerment: AYE,” he told the party’s Youth Arm convention in Kingstown.
Gonsalves, whose ULP is seeking a fourth consecutive term in office in general elections expected this year, ahead of the march 2016 deadline, said the first point of the plan is economic empowerment for young people.
He said this will facilitate youth entrepreneurship through the starting up and the growing of businesses owned by young people.
Gonsalves said that young farmers get loans from the state-owned Farmers Support Company, and a lot of young people are involved in information technology business.
“But I want to announce here today that in relation to economic empowerment, I am going to find at least EC$300,000 to put additionally with Saboto Caesar ministry for young people outside of agriculture to get seed money to help to start up their own business.”
Caesar is Minister of Agriculture, Industry, Forestry, Fisheries and Rural Transformation, and was the feature speaker at the convention.
The second element of AYE is educational empowerment, which aims to continue to provide quality education and training to aid the development of the abilities of all children, adolescents and youth to enhance the quality of their lives, livelihoods and opportunities for further upliftment, Gonsalves said.
AYE will also provide protection, safety and security for young people, “to enable the creation of protective environments to foster resilience and ensure adolescent and youth safety and security”.
It will also focus on health, wellbeing and housing, the purpose of this goal being to improve the health and holistic well-being of adolescent youth and to ensure quality housing at affordable prices.
The fifth element of AYE is culture, identity and citizenship.
Gonsalves said this is to “enhance the development and appreciation of a Vincentian and Caribbean civilisation, identity and commitment in the quest of an alive nationhood for our country and a mature regional integration”.
AYE also includes a policy and institutional framework, “to elaborate further the optimal policy and institutional environment and mechanism to support the effective implementation of the national, regional and global policies for youth development”.
The final element is “leadership, participation, inclusiveness and governance”.
“Each of those words is pregnant with meaning, and these, as we have been demonstrating, are to ensure and enhance youth participation at all relevant and appropriate levels of decision making, programme implementation and oversight. And that is why this party is attracting so many young people and involving them in the governance of St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” Gonsalves told the youth convention.