“We at the PEP secretariat are pleased by Premier Amory’s endorsement of the programme,” said Mr Hanley. “This is a Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis initiative, and in the absence of a physical office on the island of Nevis, PEP has been piggybacking on the previous success by the Social Services Department in Nevis in rolling out similar programmes.”
In a despatch from the Department of Information of the Nevis Island Administration on Tuesday April 23, Premier the Hon Vance Amory was quoted as encouraging young people in Nevis to look at areas in which they might want to become self employed.
“We have encouraged them to take advantage of the People Employment Programme (PEP),” Premier Amory was quoted as saying. “We are also looking at them finding areas of employment with established contractors or established businesses.”
According to Mr Hanley, it appeared to him that Premier Amory was not only aware of how the programme is run, but even how some of the PEP interns are behaving, something that has also been observed on St. Kitts, which the programme management wishes to address.
Premier Amory was quoted in the press release from the Department of Information on Nevis: “If you are assigned as a member or one who is recruited into the PEP programme, you show up for work whatever the work is and that you do an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay.”
According to Mr Hanley, the People Employment Programme was launched in Nevis in December with the full collaboration of the Nevis Island Administration. The Programme has grown and currently has about 220 persons on register and PEP’s coordinator has been working in collaboration with the Department of Social Services.
“Our coordinator on the island of Nevis, Ms Kerlyn Jones has updated the Hon Hazel Brandy-Williams, Junior Minister in charge of Social Services, on the activities of the programme on the island,” said Mr Hanley. “She met with the Minister twice, where the Permanent Secretary Mr Keith Glasgow was also in attendance in one of the meetings.”
“Impressed by the response we are getting from Nevis and the support by the government and employers, we are now looking for office space from where our presence will be more visible, as we want the people of Nevis to also fully benefit from this programme.”
However, Mr Hanley said that he was rather disappointed by pronouncements of a minister of government in Nevis who attacked his (Mr Hanley’s) visit to the island last Friday as he went about identifying suitable office space for the programme in Nevis.
“PEP programme has been in Nevis since December and we have worked well with the government,” said Mr Hanley. “Yes, we were in Nevis on Friday April 19, and as a matter of protocol we called on the Director of Social Services Ms Sandra Maynard because we have since December been working with that Department to roll out our programme.”
Minister Hon Alexis Jeffers, on a political talk show on a national radio station on Wednesday night April 24, lashed out at Mr Hanley for coming to Nevis without going to see the Premier, or other government officials. He claimed PEP was not being run the way the government would want it.
“While I am not attempting to pre-empt our programme for Nevis, it is a given fact that when the office is finally identified, we are planning to invite Premier Amory or his representative to come to open the premises,” said Mr Hanley. “I do not think that it shows any disrespect if we do not call on the Premier when we are in Nevis for routine matters. He has more important things to attend to.
“With the office opening in Nevis, it will be able to provide the opportunity for more persons to be able to visit it and of course we would still have the relationship with the Social Services as we expand the collaboration mechanisms between the PEP and the government and there might be another ministry that might show an interest in wanting to work closely with the PEP.”