By and large it is the common view of most Grenadians, including myself, that the government new IMANI program can best be described as an employment scheme.
This scheme is designed, set up and managed by the New National Party administration under the guise of youth development and training, for the sole purpose of attracting the youth votes. The program already includes over 1,000 young people and government already signalled its intention to add another 3,000 to the list this fiscal year.
As was mentioned recently in one of my letters, this decision by the NNP administration to subsidise a stipend of between EC$700-1,000 to over four thousand youths is creating a serious challenge to the Ministry of Finance to manage and pay out in a time of gross economic malaise, when there are so many other services to attend to with scarce financial resources.
Anyone who attempts to question this arrangement by the administration is usually scoffed at and branded as heartless and uncaring about the young people. This sort of reaction from the
government is no doubt an attempt to keep people silent on the fact in issue, for fear that the young people will think that it is only the government that cares and the adults don’t care a hoot about them being employed.
Mrs Emmalin Pierre, Minister for Youth and Sports, while addressing a youth gathering said, “Among other things, the government is concerned about the level of unemployment among young people and so the new IMANI programme will address the weaknesses of the GYUP and the old IMANI programme.”
Mrs Pierre noted that it is expected that a programme that engages such magnitude of young people would have its challenges, but she was “extremely excited about the new programme”.
No one should disagree with Minister Pierre that the question of youth unemployment and unemployment as a whole is a serious issue in Grenada that needs to be urgently addressed by the administration.
Minister Pierre needs to first explain to the nation how this new IMANI program that promises to engage such magnitude of young people will solve the unemployment saturation in the country. When the government is doing little to put in place the necessary infrastructure and the industries to create new and sustainable jobs for our young and intelligent minds.
Currently, the recession is posing a real challenge for most people and businesses on the island. Many business places have already close their doors, while some are on the brink of closing down. Prices are high, sales are down, production levels are low, workers salaries are at a virtual standstill, debushers are back at base, while the unemployment level continues to rise to higher levels, this situation paints a gloomy picture of the Grenada economy.
The IMANI program in its current form is not genuinely helping our young people, and is currently making matters worse by posing a real threat in terms of workers’ security in the workplace in a period when it is so difficult to find and secure a job.
This program already is responsible for many casualties in the workplace, where workers with commitments and multiple responsibilities to the family, bank, educational expenses, among other things, are being sent on the breadline by their employers and being replaced with IMANI workers at no cost to the business entity, since the government pays the stipend, which average between EC$700-1,000 monthly.
The effects of these job losses are negatively affecting dependant families and businesses as a whole. In the Spice Isle many business places have already closed down and a few banking entities have already cut operations at some branches.
If the government is serious about youth unemployment as they say, then why not lobby with international donors and friendly governments to set up a few industrial plants on the island, be it agro-industries, fishing, garment or otherwise to be able to gainfully employ the youth in meaningful production? And stop the practice of victimising and replacing workers who are genuinely making a daily effort to look after their families needs.
I therefore urge the government to stop being tardy and move to
vigorously pursue initiatives that will create new and genuine employment for our youths. By so doing, the administration will be creating new employment, while at the same time the unemployment rate will be reduced. As a point of reference, these objectives are not met with this present program in its current form.
Therefore I urge the government to reform and correct this program as soon as possible. If allowed to continue to operate the way it is, it will further continue to create additional casualties within the workplace and plunge Grenada into a state of deeper crisis.
Unfortunately, this NNP administration is not well known to take advice from ordinary Grenadians and so in order to move the government to effect changes on important matters that affect us all as a people, pressure must be brought to bear both locally and internationally as was recently done with the repealing of the Electronic Crimes Bill that was passed into law.
Added to that we have a media in Grenada that is either fast asleep or is too busy involved with the government managing news reports rather than informing the public about the important issues that affect us as a people.
The allegiance of senior media managers like Hamlet Mark and Rawle Titus to the government is making it rather difficult for their juniors to function and to report in a fair and balanced way. The spirit of T.A. Marryshow must once again be invoked to protect the Grenadian citizen from an administration that is continually inflicting pressure and pain on the citizen of the spice isle.