The ruling Democratic Labour Party has rushed to Parliament with a new National Youth Policy “for cheap political reasons”.
Opposition St. Thomas MP, Cynthia Forde, asserted that on the eve of a general election, the Freundel Stuart administration was now trying to save face with the same young people it had disappointed for four and a half years.
The former Minister of State in the Ministry of Education and Youth Affairs also urged Minister of Youth Stephen Lashley not to praise himself “as he usually does” because the current Government had benefitted from work started by the previous Barbados Labour Party Administration.
She was leading the Opposition’s response in the debate on the National Youth Policy, when the House of Assembly met today.
“I believe that the timing of this laying of this policy is only for cheap political reasons,” Forde told the Lower House.
“I believe that a matter of this nature, as important as I know it is to the growth and development of our young people in Barbados, who will become the leaders of this wonderful country, should have been paid more attention.
“Perhaps this Government thinks that its timing is right, in that on the eve of an election they want to jump start the youth that have become so disillusioned with their various policies and programmes.
“At the end of the day I believe the talk show hosts who are in their favour and the other Democratic Labour Party persons, who are out there espousing … would be wanting to add this documentation here to their list of achievements, which I consider to be little at this time,” she added.
Forde said while Lashley was now lauding the current Administration for what he called a “revolutionary” policy, the BLP had left “a wonderful platform” for the DLP.
“The honorable minister also referred to this set of consultations I believe that took place being the first ever of consultations with this kind of wide cooperation and collaboration from the stakeholders in this country,” she stated.
“… I would wish, Sir, to indicate that Dr. (Ivan) Henry, who is very highly respected, would have supervised an aspect of consultations between March and July 2006 when the (Barbados) Labour Party was making an effort to pilot this National Youth Policy.
“We looked at policies and programmes associated with the national sports training programmr, we had the summer camps programme, Youth Achieving Results programme, music and visual arts, national cultural vocational training programme, project HIV/AIDS and the community…”
During her contribution Forde also criticised Government’s interest in today’s debate, which was televised.
“I observed the absence of a number of members from this honorable chamber on the other side, who were not present during this debate and my impression is that they have been treating this matter with such scant respect they would not even make the effort to be here when the debate is going on,” she said. (SC)