Prime Minister Philip J. Pierre has declared that the Youth Economy is the first step in transforming the Saint Lucia economy, driven by technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship.
In his budget policy statement Tuesday, he described youth unemployment, which is high on the Government’s priority list, as one of the country’s major challenges.
According to the Castries East MP, youth disenchantment continues to be a perennial problem.
He noted that over 15,000 young people are unemployed despite several youth-related business programmes conducted by NGOs and local public and private sector agencies.
“It is because my administration believes that every young person, irrespective of their socio-economic circumstances has the potential to make a positive contribution to the development of their community, that we have taken up the responsibility to address the apparent deficiencies in the existing youth-related business programmes,” Pierre stated.
The Minister of Finance announced that a statutory body with its own board of directors would manage the Youth Economy to avoid unnecessary bureaucracy and make timely decisions.
The statutory body will collaborate in formulating outreach programmes in communities with public and private sector social partners, emphasising at-risk, urban, and rural youth.
Pierre said the body would address the areas of training, marketing, finance (loans and grants), and mentorship.
Pierre announced that an amount of EC$10 million is provided for the Youth Economy in the Estimates for 2022/23.
“Mr. Speaker, talented youth from low-income families should not be denied the opportunity to monetise their skills because they cannot afford the necessary equipment. Talented young athletes should no longer be denied the opportunity to participate in regional or international competitions because of the lack of access to finance, to purchase sporting gear, and to secure travel arrangements,” the Prime Minister declared.
And he indicated that the Government would correct “these impediments.”