A former Grenada government minister has criticised the tendency of politicians in the country to engage in too much free give-away to the people in order to win them for electoral purposes.
St Patrick West Member of Parliament in the 1980’s and 90’s Kenny Lalsingh poured cold water on the practice by political parties to develop a dependency culture with the population.
“We continue in the last few years to hand out things to people – all those political parties do it,” he told THE NEW TODAY.
Lalsingh took issue with the approach of politicians who adopt the policy that every time the people want something “you just give them”.
“Every time they beg you, you give them. You are not teaching them to work and make life meaningful,” he said.
“If we continue giving all the time when people want, and not showing them how to work and become productive then you’re building a society that will not be able to develop itself,” he added.
According to Lalsingh who has served in government under both the current ruling New National Party (NNP) and the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), those who are engaged in this practice will only be building “an unproductive society.”
“That is another problem that needs to be addressed,” he remarked.
When told that politicians are inclined to behave in such a manner in order to get votes for elections held every five years, Lalsingh said: “I know but you have to change that around.”
He said it is time the politicians realise that they cannot continue along this trajectory and pointed a finger at the Imani programme in which the Keith Mitchell-led administration is said to be spending millions annually in order to attract the young voting population.
He cited the situation in which young people have been trained for up to 7 years and still remain as Imanis and not given full-time employment.
“That does not make sense – it doesn’t make sense for the people’s development. If they are trained and they are working then you should hire them and move them from the training programme,” he told THE NEW TODAY.
“It doesn’t send a good message to our young people. We have to make those changes,” he said.
The former government minister who won the St Patrick West seat in the 1984, 1990 and 1995 general elections, suggested that these people should be given a work contract and taken out of the Imani training programme.
According to Lalsingh, when he was sitting as a member of the Cabinet he took the position that he was not in favour of persons who left school being involved in the Imani programme but that the initiative should be restricted to students between Forms 3 and 5 in secondary schools.
He felt that the programme should be created for students in every school to have an opportunity to get involved in activities at the workplace.
Lalsingh said that as a schoolboy he was afforded the opportunity to go to a training centre in which the boys did carpentry and the girls were engaged in cooking and sewing.
“We were trained and got accustomed to the workplace,” he added.
Lalsingh, one of the most successful businessmen in the country, disclosed that he was exposed to the shop owned by his own parents and learnt about business there while going to school.
“If we don’t put people to start to understand when you get 9 and 10 subjects you have to get into the workplace so you better start now”.
‘If a child wants to be a doctor, send him to the Health Centre once a week. The child wants to be a policeman, send him to the police station – find a workplace for every child once a week and you certify them at the end of the 5 years based on what you did”.
The ex-government minister was confident that if the country moved in that direction “we would see a complete transformation of our young people and of our country if we do things like that.”
He pointed out that most of the schools in Guyana are comprehensive with children exposed to skills training and in Grenada itself the Mc Donald College in St Patrick was seemingly moving in that direction by bringing in all kinds of tools to get the children involved in skills training although the process is “too slow” at the moment.
“That is a good way to go – make the schools comprehensive because not every child is academically brilliant but you need the academics and you also need the practical,” he said.
Lalsingh stressed that Grenada is lagging behind in persons having the skills to repair a number of items that fall into the area of new technology on the market.
“We don’t have people to fix them. We have a lot of cars coming out, but which one of the young people is upgrading themselves to repair those things – not many,” he said.
“We have to prepare for the new world in terms of technology so that our people can be engaged (so) the things we buy can benefit us. That’s how I see it,” he added.