Young people are an asset and not a problem to be solved, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves told the Youth Arm convention of the ruling Unity Labour Party on Sunday.
“Never will Labour let down the children and the young people of this country. Never! And the young people appreciate that,” said Gonsalves.
The convention comes ahead of general elections, which Gonsalves says will be held this year, ahead of the March 2016 constitutional deadline.
He accused the main opposition New Democratic Party of seeing young people as “a problem to be solved”.
“When you hear them talk, they talk about young people these days, they get involved in so much wutlissness (worthlessness). They say young people involved in so much crime, they say young people more disrespectful than at any other time in our history. And they see all those as the results of the behaviour of young people and young people is a problem to solve,” Gonsalves said.
“Young people is not a problem to solve; Young people is the heart of the solution for St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” he said.
“When you draw up the balance sheet, young people are not a deficit, they are an asset. When you draw up the balance sheet, the young people are not about weaknesses, it is about strengths. The young people are not about limitations; they are about possibilities. And unless a leadership puts trust and faith in the young people, they cannot put trust and faith in the nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” Gonsalves said.
He said that the NDP has criticised several ULP initiatives intended to benefit young people.
Among these, he mentioned 100 per cent mortgages for public servants provided by the then state-owned National Commercial Bank.
Gonsalves said other financial institutions have copied the initiative.
He also mentioned the government’s acting as guarantor for student loans for poor persons, adding that to date the ULP government has guaranteed EC$90 million in such student loans.