The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the lack of a serious programme for national youth development and advancement in Grenada, Carriacou & Petite Martinique.
THE NEW TODAY is aware that the Imani programme is the centerpiece of the attempt by the ruling New National Party (NNP) government of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell to provide opportunities for our young people.
It is quite obvious that the programme has outlived its purpose and usefulness and the time has come for a revisit and overhaul of the initiative to deal with a growing unemployment situation among our youthful population.
The last statistics seen by this newspaper suggested that Grenada had a 50% unemployment rate among the youth.
It is quite obvious that this figure has skyrocketed with Covid-19 due to massive job losses in all sectors of the economy as businesses were forced to shut their doors from the public.
The government is in no position to put at the disposal of our young people much less the wider population that continues to be unemployed, a payroll support programme that can tide them over to the Christmas period.
There is growing dissatisfaction in the country even among supporters of the ruling party with the Imani programme with some people openly complaining of not seeing any light at the end of the very dark tunnel for them.
One person told us that she joined the Imani programme at age 25 and that 16 years later she is now 41 years old and has no real and serious prospects of moving out of the programme into something more worthwhile, useful and productive.
Clearly, it means that if this Imani stays in the programme for another 15 years as government has not come up with anything else to uplift their lives, it means that this individual would retire at age 60 knowing only employment throughout her life as an Imani for $800 to $1000.00 per month.
Our young people are also looking forward to improvement in their lives and cannot see better days coming with the Imani programme.
A common complaint of the average Imani is that they are put at a serious disadvantage due to lack of job security as many of them are unable to take out loans with commercial banks and other financial institutions to improve their livelihood.
This newspaper has seen a report from an Imani who received a comfort letter to take to a bank for a small loan of $5000.00 and the deductions from her salary resulted in the individual going home at the end of the month with little or no money to support her life.
THE NEW TODAY is getting the feeling that our youths are also getting increasingly restless as they see no hope of being able to build their own homes and become truly independent and move out from the comfort zones of their parents.
And this is happening at a time when foreigners are coming into the country and being given the best lands for hotels and access to millions of dollars from the sale of Grenadian passports to erect their projects.
Our present government seems to be concentrating on a policy and programme to build more and more hotels to solve the unemployment situation in the country.
The reality of the situation is that this kind of activity is not meaningful to the young people as several of our existing hotel plants have been closed for the past six months due to Covid-19.
The young people are taking note of the lack of a development plan in the recent addresses by Prime Minister Mitchell to provide jobs and hope for them.
The addresses were lacking in vision and were more or less of the same – the building of more and more hotels when Covid-19 exposed the folly of this as an economic plan for serious and real sustainable development.
THE NEW TODAY is warning those political parties that are thinking of replacing the NNP in office that they have to come up with a national development plan that provides meaningful opportunities for our young people.
Grenada is witnessing a generational change as evidenced by the comments being made by our young people on the Social Media platforms.
Unfortunately for the NNP regime, it is not in a position to control the free flow of information on platforms like Facebook and Instagram as our young people are increasingly speaking out on issues that affect them on a daily basis.
Our young people are sending out a serious message that they deserve better from our present crop of leaders and “ole talk” will no longer cut it with them any longer.
It is apparent that Prime Minister Mitchell, despite his position as Caricom lead Prime Minister on Science and Information Technology (IT) is not an active participant on Social Media and might be fed only second hand information from his agents on the sentiments being voiced increasingly by our young people.
Covid-19 has sent the message throughout the length and breadth of the tri-island State that it will no longer be business as usual as this new generation of Grenadian youth has come of age since the 1970’s – 50 years later when the last generation including the late Maurice Bishop started to preach a new ideological construct for development.
THE NEW TODAY is calling for change to this Imani Flagship programme of NNP as it has not solved the unemployment situation in the country among the Youth and it has failed miserably as a training ground to advance the skills and education of young people as originally planned.
This Imani programme has come to zero as a development tool as it has not improved the standard of living of our young people as the future looks very bleak and grim for them post-Covid-19.
Finally, THE NEW TODAY is concerned over increasing reports in recent times of persons who passed through Grenada and have been known to be tested positive for Covid-19 on their arrival in other countries.
Our health officials need to have a serious conversation with the nation on this issue as many people whether rightly or wrongly are suspicious on whether a deliberate attempt is being made by Grenada to massage the Coronavirus figure.
How come these cases are not being picked up in Grenada?