Powell, who was at the time making his remarks on the issues of unemployment and crime in the Federation at Team Unity’s first public meeting in the Cayon for the year, told listeners in Cayon that the People’s Empowerment Programme is a “stop-gap”.
“We believe that the youths of this country deserve more than a stop-gap. I understand that if you go to the banks for a loan, and you tell them you are on PEP, they tell you they don’t want to hear nothing else,” Powell said.
The politician added that it is also difficult for PEP workers to acquire items on hire purchase, adding that the program is not “meaningful employment” for the youth in St. Kitts and Nevis.
“You can’t go and get a visa from the embassy in Barbados and tell them you are on PEP. They going to tell you, you’re going to the states to look a real job, because they have realized that PEP is nothing but a stop-gap,” Powell said.
The PAM Central Basseterre candidate further noted that the program is “nothing but an election gimmick, aimed at drawing votes, especially from the younger populace of the Federation.
“We believe that our people deserve more than a minimum wage. We want a livable wage… they come and they said we have the highest minimum wage in the region and guess what, we have the highest cost of living too,” the politician said.
Powell told the gathering that the only way the current cost of living will decrease is through a Government of National Unity. He added that the youth are much more than “grass cutters”.
“We want to make you entrepreneurs and business people. We want to make you landscapers instead of somebody cutting bush on the side of the road,” Powell said.
Team Unity recently launched its political campaign under the theme, “Year of Change 2015”, as political parties gear up for General Elections that are expected soon.