Full Disclosure
January 26, 2007
Comrade scores 150 not out

For many years the unbiased Vincentian who has his nation’s development at heart, viewed the Ottley Hall debt as a raging red sea whose fury was a definite barrier to our forward movement as a people. While those who are true to their conscience would have counted the project as a great blunder, others viewed it as a failure simply worth being swept under the carpet. Nevertheless, we all know for a fact that depending on which side of the spectrum the honest Historian resides, when the history books of our nation are written, I am certain that the failure of Ottley Hall will occupy its own chapter. From the outset, this project was slated to cost an exorbitant sum, secondly, the issue of corruption was alleged and attached itself as a symbiotic blight, thirdly the issue of debt servicing became a grave issue and disfigured our nation’s balance sheet and lastly, the prospective effect of the alleged corruption on those who purported to have been involved should keep every Vincentian eager to hear the outcome of this project.{{more}} In short, Ottley Hall would be talked about for a very long time to come.

It is in this light that a massive debt relief of an approximate value of 12.5 percent of our Gross Domestic product can never be catagorised as anything less than triumph. However, many of us will remain silent on the issue. There is a trend of ingratitude which has invaded our land. Many persons are ready to highlight and criticize weaknesses but find it extremely difficult to commend good work. No one is perfect, and we should all be striving to perfection, so we must commend a brother or a sister who through persistent work and effort succeeds. We need to put aside partisan politics and get our problems solved. It is time as a people that we take from our personal and national ambitions the apparent ills of partisan politics, the greed for political power, and the thirst to get onto some perceived train to plunder the state’s resources.

Our Prime Minister has acted as a maestro, but if commendation from wayward opposers was what fueled his ambitions he may have been discouraged and down spirited by now. However, this is far from the case. Today we appear to be paying too much attention at lower level detractors. So when will we stop opposing for opposing sake? Is it that the label “opposition” has to be changed to something else?

Youth and Entrepreneurship

As it relates to the recent article, “Managing finances and personal youth development”, it is exceedingly appropriate and timely to extend the continuum of issues as it currently relates to the development of the Vincentian youth. This week’s focus is a superlative springboard from the subject of financial management and our youth.

As our youth prepare in this aspect of their development, an entrepreneurial outlook may have a direct link to any management of money. As part of our robust democracy, we must continue as adults, and young people to contribute to nation building from the community to the national level, and consequently to the rest of the Caribbean region and the world.

Here in St. Vincent specialized activities and keynote addresses in Youth Month which falls usually at the end of September through to October are aimed at awakening the civil minded youth at best. This acknowledgement of our youth is a part of the journey in the mobilization and fortification of the minds that will shape and colour the future of our nation. There must however be an extension of those activities as young people’s involvement in nation building must continue to be all inclusive and accessible not only in Youth Month, but throughout the year. We must continue to encourage our youth to come to the table jointly and to grapple with issues they face.

We must at no time underestimate the impact that youth entrepreneurship can have on the macroeconomics of the region. Results of a census 26 years ago revealed that there were at least 22,310 persons, or approximately 22.8% of the population between the ages of 15-24 years in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, who were classified as youth. Where are we today as a nation in the process towards building a thriving society from the ground up? It is our responsibility and concern to foster and build youth entrepreneurship. Herein lies the power of youth as nation builders through entrepreneurship. Getting our youth involved in entrepreneurial pursuits will assist in the harvesting of our human resource, the greatest resource of any nation.

An annex to the Ministry concerned with youth development from a purely entrepreneurial standpoint could focus on the implementation of initiatives such as advocating for an entrepreneurial curriculum based program in schools, availability, and access to entrepreneurial information in all schools and community centers, and a mentorship program that would assist in training those who are ready and available to be trained. These initiatives would go a long way towards nation building.

While we have established a small business program where loans for start up can be accessed, business planning workshops must be given on a continual basis. Multipurpose centres already foster and plant the early seeds of entrepreneurial goals and non-formal skills training as some youth have been able to make advancements in free and private enterprise. It is paramount that we do not exclude any youth from this process of participation for trivial reasons. Upon enquiry about a particular youth on the Windward side of the country, I found out that he was told not to return to a particular multipurpose centre. The underlying issues were not addressed and it resulted in a youth being excluded. Where requisite skills and qualifications are lacking, let us continue to meet the need. There are many youth in communities who if mobilized will be committed to join a movement towards success.

Entrepreneurship can prove to be a difficult undertaking. However, being a decision maker and a positive thinker will go a long way. Here is the opportunity to create jobs even where a business starts at a small scale, shares services and space while they grow, and eventually move into a space of their own when they have achieved a large enough scale to be a viable stand-alone business. In Georgetown for example, entrepreneurship can be used as a tool to revitalize a fading town, which has excellent resources but suffers from a lack of spirited development.

As we continue in the evolution of youth struggle toward the development of youth, we must move beyond the point of a dependency syndrome to having our youth be an equal partner in the processes of our development here in St.Vincent and the Grenadines.