An opposition Senator in the Upper House of Parliament has voiced concern over the level of sexual initiation taking place in the country.
Senator Franka Bernadine who expressed her feelings on the issue during her contribution to the debate on the 2016 budget referred to a 2013 World Bank report which indicated that sexual initiation in the Caribbean is the earliest in the world.
Sen. Bernadine said Grenada was one of the island covered in the World Bank report and it reported that the first sexual initiation takes place as early as age 10 for 50 percent of females in the country and 25 percent with respect to boys.
She told a sitting of the Senate that when these figures are coupled with the number of rape cases in the local courts, it is clear that too many of the nation’s children are focused on wrong matters.
“There are big social issues in this country, and I want to ask the government through its Minister (of Social Development), what is being done to address these issues. Some of them are violence against women, sexual awareness and prevention, unemployment of uneducated or unskilled women,” she said.
Sen. Bernadine who served as Minister of Education in the 2008-13 Tillman Thomas-led Congress Government stated that there must be no compromise when it comes to educating the nation’s children.
She claimed that 9.1 percent of the budget which is allocated for education cannot do the job that is badly needed in the education sector.
The former Education Minister said she was disappointed with the $102.1M allocated for education, stating that a lot of lip-service is paid to education by the current rulers.
She informed the Senate that development plans, ambitious ideas visionary economic policies, and environmental concerns cannot move forward without the development of the human resources of the country.
The ex- Government Minister also told the Senate she believes that the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) had a role to play in the preparation of the 2016 budget.
“There is nothing new and creative about the budget, because it is the IMF that sets out your (government) plan. They tell you what you will spend, how you will spend it for the three years (of the Structural Adjustment Programme),” she said.
Sen. Bernadine strengthened her point by indicating that the Leader of Government Business in the Upper House of Parliament never misses an opportunity to point out how well Grenada is doing under the IMF, and “how well we are towing the line.”
She likened his often stated comments in the Senate to that of “climbing up a ladder out of a pit.”
“You (the government) are down in a pit. You are in the dreaded grips of the IMF,” she remarked.
The ruling New National Party (NNP) government of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell is into the second year of Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) in league with the IMF to arrest a fiscal deficit that forced the island to restructure its debt repayments.
In April 2013, Grenada was forced to default on scheduled payments due to US bondholders from some high-interest loans contracted by a previous Mitchell-led regime.
Sen. Bernadine also touched on the high level of unemployment facing the young people in the country.
She feared that young people who are idle and left to sit on the blocks can see nothing but increased gambling, increased use of alcohol consumption, particularly among the young ladies, and domestic disputes which lead to violence, and child abuse.
Sen. Bernadine warned that the people of Grenada are struggling “to make ends meet,” under the current rulers, adding that banks would not close down branches if things were thriving.
Recently, a number of banks closed their branches in Grenville, St. Andrew’s in the face of a downturn in economic activities on the island.
Congress has claimed that over twenty businesses have closed their doors in St. Andrew’s since the NNP returned to power nearly three years ago.