BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – Minister of State with responsibility for Youth Empowerment, the Honourable Isalean Phillip said the Government values the input of the nation’s youth, and her ministry will continue to advocate for young persons to have a voice in the development of the Federation.
Minister Phillip, during an appearance on the Wednesday, October 25 edition of InFocus, stated that the mandate of her ministry is to ensure that youth development is mainstreamed across all line ministries.
“For me as the Minister of Youth that is my objective of course and so when I converse with my Cabinet colleagues and I understand what is happening in their ministries [I ask] did you think about youth for that, is there an opportunity for a young person to join this, and we have been able to actually have some opportunities for that. For example, for Diplomatic Week, I did make the request to the Foreign Minister to have some young persons be part of that event so that they could have that exposure, and there were some young people who were able to work with the protocol officers during Diplomatic Week,” the minister explained.
She added, “Similarly, I believe the Ministry of Tourism would have recently had a young person as a Youth Ambassador to attend the Regional Tourism Youth Congress, and so these are ways that I believe we are not only talking about what needs to happen in youth development but we are actually doing it in terms of implementing some of the policy initiatives that we have.”
One of the most notable examples of the Government’s commitment to the inclusion of youth in the overall development of the Twin Island Federation was the recent staging of a national consultation with young persons on the upcoming Budget. The dialogue was entitled, “Transformation to a Sustainable Island State: A Budget Conversation with the Nation’s Youth”.
“This was actually an initiative that was pushed and encouraged by Prime Minister the Honourable Dr. Terrance Drew in terms of making sure that we can take the Budget to the people and make sure that it is understood by all demographics across the board,” Minister Phillip said. “The real objective was really to be able to engage the young people on the Budget which is one of the most critical aspects of governing—determining what the Budget is going to be and the plans for the Budget for the year upcoming, and so the objective was really to get young people involved in that and I thought the session was very informative and so I would hope that the young people who were present were able to appreciate just the information that is taken into consideration when it comes to developing a country’s budget and so we would have had the different presentations from the Financial Secretary Mrs. Hazel, a representative from Economic Development and Trade and different agencies including Statistics, and so the information I thought was informative and transparent.”
The honourable minister said she was particularly pleased by the participation of youth from a wide cross-section including from the secondary schools as well as young professionals.
She noted that “There were actually some questions and comments from the floor that I thought was really interesting. We had comments from persons in the creative economy, talking about the challenges they face in terms of their own development as business persons and entrepreneurs, and it was really good to be able to have that interface because that is really how the policy development process ought to be in terms of the consultative process to be able to inform what we need to be doing in our respective ministries across government to be able to ensure that we are responding to the needs of the electorate, in particular, our young people.”
Minister Phillip indicated that the National Youth Policy guides the ministry’s approach to youth development in the Federation.