Youth Parliament debates resolutions on issues in St. Kitts

These resolutions focused on a number of critical issues they felt were of national importance and included; a Motion of No Confidence, the Establishment of a National Youth Empowerment Management Board and a National Marijuana Commission.

During the debate of a mock no confidence motion, members argued that since the installation of the Prime Minister, the Federation has been governed in a manner which has undermined the constitution.

Another reason for the tabling of the motion spoke to the claim that the PM, failed to consult the federation prior to the Land for Debt Swap Agreement with the St. Kitts and Nevis/ Anguilla National Bank.

The opposition further claimed that this resulted in the sell-out of the nation’s patrimony.

Among the other reasons for the MONC, the opposition outlined that the PM, through the Ministry of Education, failed to provide a safe haven for Students of the Basseterre High School.

The PM then defended the performance of his administration pushing back the claims of the opposition. He was supported by other members on the government benches who defended their record highlighting the achievements of their government ministries.

The Speaker of Parliament, Azard Gumbs, after listening to both sides called for a vote.

In a strange twist of events, when it came to the vote on the resolution, it was discovered that some members of the government side voted for the motion, while some members of the opposition voted against.

There were a total of nine votes against the resolution, while there were five votes for the motion, with two members on the government side also abstaining.

Another resolution was for the Establishment of a National Youth Employment Management (NYEM) Board within the Ministries of Youth and Labour.

The government’s side explained that having considered the economic and social impact of the People’s Employment Programme (PEP), it was necessary to restructure the initiative to ensure its sustainability.

It was stated that taking into consideration the number of persons employed within the job attachment programme, the government would establish the NYEM board to be managed by the Ministries of Youth, Finance and Labour.

The Youth Ministry would also provide labour and manage the application process, including job placement. The ministries of Labour and Finance will provide expertise, and the management of finances of the Board.

The proposed commission, according to the mock Labour Party will oversee some changes to the PEP programme, such as, the implementation of 4-6 week training module for participants in batches, before being placed in establishments and the rule of establishments not exceeding the 40% participants to staff ratio.

Other changes will see employers subsiding interns with 40% wages after a six month period, before the said employers pay full salaries after a year and reduce stipend paid to participants to EC$250 while on training.

Another area of discussion was the much talked about legalization of marijuana; which they suggested should be made legal by December 2017.

The government side explained that because of pleas from the Rastafarian community, the probable economic benefits that can be gained and increase public demand for recreational and medicinal use of Marijuana; the resolution to have National Marijuana Commission should be established.

The responsibilities outlined by the commission, according to the government’s side, should conduct an island-wide drug use survey to map-out users and concentrated areas.

It would also see consultations with representatives from the security forces, Christian and evangelical associations, the Rastafarian community, the bar association and the medical fraternity to determine acceptable amounts, use and distribution needed.

The party further outlined, that following the initiation of the responsibilities, the National House of Assembly should introduce and have it read for the first time in December 2017.

There were approximately 21 parliamentarians. More than half of the youth parliamentarians were comprised of females, mostly on the government side.

The Youth Parliament group was launched in 1999. Over its years of existence, through its sittings, SKNYPA has tackled issues surrounding tourism, agriculture, education, climate change, national security and health, and was the leading force that lobbied for the “seat belt” law.

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Those serving on the Government side were Dehaan Henry (Prime Minister), Kara Daly (Deputy Prime Minister), Kai’Jana Henry (Minister of International Trade, Industry, Commerce, and Consumer Affairs, Javon Liburd (Minister of Homeland Security, Investment, Constituency Empowerment), Patrice Harris ( Youth Empowerment, Information Technology, Telecommunications and Information) Dennis McCall Jr. (Ecclesiastical Affairs and Education), Tasanna Kelly (Attorney General, Justice and Legal Affairs), Zoe Quinlan (Foreign Affairs, Immigration), Dominic Mathew (Public Works, Energyand Public Utilities, Roads and Post), Tameka Vyphuis (Social and Community Development, Culture and Gender Development) and Serena Browne (Health, Agriculture, Marine Resources).

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The Opposition side was made up of Dennis Andre Knight (Leader of the Opposition), Azuree Liburd (Deputy Leader of Opposition), Lewis Bennet (Member for Middle island), Jonelle Irish (Member for east Bird Rock), Lacrissa Richardson (Member for Old Road), Clayticia Daniel (Member for Butler’s Village), Elsie Harry ( Memeber for Lodge), Ciaran Phillip (Member for Saint Peters), Otis Jeffers (Member for Cayon). 

Clerk of the House was Kerissa Rooberts.

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