PM Douglas lauds PEP for offering opportunities to persons who lost jobs in Nevis

Federation’s Prime Minister, the Right Hon Dr Denzil Douglas

Basseterre, St. Kitts(August 30, 2013) — Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister, the Right Hon Dr Denzil Douglas, has for the first time commented on reports out of Nevis which indicated that tens of persons lost their jobs after the new CCM-led administration took office early this year.

He has at the same time lauded the government’s initiated People Employment Programme (PEP) which has funding support from a local private foundation, the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation (SIDF), for offering jobs to many Nevisians, among them some of those who were affected by the sudden job losses.

“A large number of people have been dismissed in Nevis, and that is something I have not even spoken out against,” said Prime Minister Douglas. “I will say it now: It is wrong. That is something that should not happen.”

Prime Minister Douglas made the comments Thursday morning (August 29) on Nevis’ Choice 105.3 FM while a guest on Breakfast Menu hosted by Chef Waltie (Mr Walter Morton). “We are in a modern age where a person, unless that person is in a very serious and politically sensitive position especially in the civil service, he or she should not lose his job because he supported another party.”

He explained that he had tried to stay out of that discussion but had now decided to break his silence after the show’s host asked him to comment on the role that is being played by the People Employed Programme, which has now become one of the largest employers on the island of Nevis.

PEP’s Field Officer in Nevis, Mr Floris Finley (left) with a PEP contracted employer, Mr Gavin Pemberton, and a PEP intern, Ms Shermel Pemberton. Mr Finley is one of those persons who were fired by the new Nevis Island Administration

“It is wrong and we would have moved away from that several years ago, because it perpetuates political tribalism, which is one of the very same things that people are talking about as to why we are in this situation with a motion of no confidence, accusing the Labour Administration of atrocities which do not exist,” observed the Prime Minister.

He told the show’s host that the People Employment Programme initiative was created jointly by the Federal Government of St. Kitts and Nevis and by the SIDF and that it was benefitting the people of Nevis and the people of St. Kitts.

“That is why I say that the PEP therefore has to be spread far and wide because these people must be allowed to eat,” said the Prime Minister. “They have families, they have bills to pay, their children need to go to schools and to universities, and they are citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis and they have a right to earn.”

According to the Prime Minister, just as PEP is being utilised to assist in a number of areas in St. Kitts, so too the PEP must be used to assist people in Nevis, because the two islands are part of one country, noting that the government is seeking to develop a support system during this difficult period of transition in the economy.

“PEP has to be used to support these initiatives through the SIDF money,” noted the Prime Minister. “That is why I feel very strongly that the organisers of the PEP and of the SIDF Management Team must allow this thing to go across the entire land of St. Kitts and Nevis so that our people can benefit.”

More WISE grants for Nevis: Mr Geoffrey Hanley (2nd left) seen at a function held on June 28 where eleven women received WISE grants from PEP. The Hon Patrice Nisbett, Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs, Homeland Security, Labour, Justice and Legal Affairs (2nd right) is seen handing over a cheque to one of the businesswomen. Looking on (left) is Ms Kerlyn Jones, PEP’s Coordinator in Nevis

Meanwhile, the People Employment Programme’s Project Manager Mr Geoffrey Hanley has announced that they are in the process of offering more Women in Small Enterprise (WISE) grants to women in Nevis who would have applied. Eleven businesswomen in Nevis received WISE grants in June.

“As we continue to ensure that persons on the island of Nevis benefit immensely from the People Employment Programme, we have some additional names and we are going to be providing the necessary financial support that they would require to enhance and improve their small businesses,” said Mr Hanley on Thursday (August 29).

Mr Hanley added that the PEP office in Nevis situated in the Morton Business Centre in downtown Charlestown, which is headed by Ms Kerlyn Jones, is finalising plans to roll out training programmes that would involve the PEP participants, first dealing with life skills and then initially in their area of interest.

“We are going to be starting off with the hospitality training which has been an area that quite a number of persons had been indicating their interest,” noted Mr Hanley. “We have been trying our very best to facilitate those persons just as it has been done on the island of St. Kitts. That is the same way we intend to do it Nevis as well.

“So it is a case where Nevisians are benefitting just as how Kittitians are benefitting and there is no bias when it comes to persons looking for jobs or accessing training.”

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