PM: Opportunities for the young second to none

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley waves to supporters at a PNM political meeting at Tropical Angel Harps Pan Yard, Chaguanas, on March 7, as Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan looks on. – Photo by Angelo Marcelle

THE Prime Minister has boasted that apart from Canada, no other country in the Western Hemisphere offers its young people opportunities for development that Trinidad and Tobago does.

Dr Rowley made this boast when he addressed a PNM public meeting at Tropical Angel Harps panyard, Enterprise, Chaguanas in the night on March 7.

He issued a public challenge to anyone to prove him wrong about this.

“I challenge any government, any minister of any government, anywhere in the Western Hemisphere except possibly Canada, to come to Trinidad and Tobago to see that the programmes that we have outlined here (for young people) that are under way exist anywhere else in the Western Hemisphere.

“There is no other country that has a range of opportunities for young people anywhere except possibly Canada, and Canada is a country that has far more resources than we have.”

He reminded PNM supporters that elections have consequences, and the PNM’s re-election in August 2020 allowed him, as prime minister, to make two new and unprecedented cabinet appointments. The first was a Youth Development and National Service Ministry.

Rowley said, “Priority expenditure goes on that ministry. In this government, in this country, priority expenditure is on the min of youth development because that is securing our future.”

He recalled that Trinidad and Tobago’s first prime minister, Dr Eric Williams, said the country’s future was in the bookbags of its schoolchildren.

Rowley said, “A part of that future is in the opportunities that we provide for people to use what is in the bookbag.”

But while the Government does all within its power to create a range of opportunities for young people to develop themselves, Rowley lamented, “We have a group of young people who want no part of that and are choosing shortcuts.”

That shortcut, he continued, includes a gun and a car.

While these people end up in a life of crime, Rowley said they are not the main problem in the country, because they have to be led by others to go astray.

He called upon families to do all they can to encourage their younger members to access programmes that can help them achieve a sustainable way of living.

“Parents, aunties, uncles, brothers, you are required to encourage your young people who are close to you. Give them the support and encouragement to get into one of these programmes, to be able to come out of it, to be able to benefit from it.”

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, right, and Minister of Works and Transport Rohan Sinanan, at a PNM political meeting at Tropical Angel Harps Pan Yard, Chaguanas, on March 7. – Photo by Angelo Marcelle

Rowley said all that was needed to guide young people in the right path was discipline from their families.

He recalled benefiting from that discipline, growing up as a child in Mason Hall, Tobago.

“In the house that I grew up in, there was a law. Nobody is to lie down in this bed when the sun comes up.”

Rowley encouraged the public to disregard commentaries by other political parties who cannot advocate anything they have done to provide opportunities for young people to develop.

He said all those parties could say is, “The government ain’t doing anything for young people.”

Rowley added that if people are not properly educated about the facts, “Many of you out there will take that seriously.”

In developing opportunities for young people, Rowley said, “What we are trying to avoid is waste and wutlessness.”

He admitted that not all young people who enter programmes established by Government will achieve their goals, but all of them must have the chance to aspire and succeed.

“Create the opportunities and we believe there can be certain high percentage of success. That is a long way from no programme and no success at all.”

Rowley identified the setting up of the Digital Transformation Ministry as another key decision the PNM took after the 2020 election.

He said all countries understand the need for digital transformation in several areas of national life and if that does not happen, “Take a seat at the back.”

He added that Digital Transformation Minister Hassel Bacchus is not a noisemaking minister, but someone who works quietly and diligently with other ministries to drive the digital transformation process across the board.

Rowley disclosed that at the recent Caricom heads of government meeting in Guyana, TT has to complain to Cricket West Indies (CWI) when it was learnt that tickets for the ICC T20 World Cup could only be bought digitally.

The tournament, which runs from June 1-29, will be hosted in the region and the US.

He said as a result of TT’s advocacy, CWI has put arrangements in place for TT citizens who cannot buy tickets for the tournament digitally to be able to buy them another way.