AN ADMISSION by a youth official in the Ministry of Youth and Culture that the Inter American Development Bank (IDB) withdrew funding for a youth initiative owing to Government bureaucracy, angered members of a parliamentary committee Tuesday who blasted the ministry for its lack of commitment to the youth of Jamaica.
Youth Programme Director at the Ministry of Youth and Culture, Takisha Barnes told members of the Human Resources and Social Development Committee that the IDB had earmarked funds to build a youth information centre in North Trelawny that would house the National Youth Service and the National Centre for Youth Development in the parish.
However, she said there were considerable delays in getting approval from the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) which led to the expiration of the timeline for spending the IDB money.
Barnes said the deadline for the youth information centre to be established was 2013/2014.
She said a technical team from the IDB was in place to assist with the development of the centre.
A seemingly annoyed, Marisa Dalrymple Philibert, Member of Parliament for South Trelawny, refused to accept the explanation given by ministry officials.
“It is shameful that funds from the IDB should be returned because you cannot achieve the goals required by various entities,” she charged.
She reasoned that if ministry officials had pushed the project with “the level of commitment needed the facility would have been built”.
“The cry from young people is that they are tired of the talk and promises. They need to see action on the ground.”
A claim by Barnes that the ministry had been trying to find a location to establish a youth centre in south Trelawny over the last four years did not go down well with Philibert who said as MP she was unaware of this effort.
She said if somebody had consulted her she would have pointed them to a possible location for the centre.
“There is a great lack of commitment to do something tangible now for the youth,” Philibert contended.
Contrasting the lacklustre approach of the youth ministry with that of the Ministry of Education, Philibert said portfolio minister Ronald Thwaites had taken decisive action in utilising limited resources to tackle problems affecting the youth in her constituency.
She said that with the closure of the Alps Primary School in south Trelawny, the education ministry partnered with the MP to assist young people “to find their foothold”.
However, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth and Culture, Sherrill O’ Reggio Angus argued that her ministry had a commitment to serve the youth.
Angus said the ministry’s 11 youth information centres across the island had been implementing a number of programmes to assist the youth.
Opposition spokesman on youth Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange raised concern that the National Youth Policy has been in gestation for the last four years. She questioned what new developments had taken place in the ministry over the period.
The permanent secretary had earlier given an overview of the draft National Youth Policy which extends over the period 2015 – 2030.
published by The Gleaner.
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