THE NATIONAL Youth Council of Jamaica (NYCJ) has expressed its disappointment with the plans proposed in the manifestos of the People's National Party (PNP) and the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).
According to a release from Ryan Small, chairman of the NYCJ, the area of youth in the manifesto of the JLP items listed under 'major achievements' is questionable and lacks due and proper recognition.
Small also noted that the NYCJ was also concerned with the PNP's commitment to the review and, subsequently, the development of a new National Youth Policy and strategic plan for youth development.
"The National Youth Policy 2004 is due for review as its life cycle will expire December 2011. On this note, we are concerned as there was no mention of the policy in the manifesto of the (PNP), as we are all cognisant that this is the only document that drives youth development, and our only legal instrument in holding the Government accountable," said Small.
The PNP proposed to establish a ministry with portfolio responsibility for Local Government and Community Development. This ministry, the PNP said, will focus on social transformation in collaboration with other ministries at the parish and municipal levels.
"We wish to state that such a move to establish a ministry of community development, in theory, is commendable. However, the council is also concerned that there was no mention as to which ministry youth development will be aligned to as community and youth development works jointly.
Therefore, it is important for the PNP to have outlined in their manifesto where the portfolio of youth will be placed as the separation of any of the two portfolios would make a ministry focusing on community development separate from youth development counterproductive, redundant, and would destroy years of hard work by both administrations."
The NYCJ said it expects the following from the party that forms the next government:
1. Greater allocation of budgetary support to youth development programmes in both government and non-government.
2. Provision of opportunities for youth to voice their concerns without fear or victimisation. Thus giving greater and direct response to policy development that is critical to their future.
Small also recommended the following:
1. The creation of a youth ministry and the non-separation of portfolios sport and community development from the ministry of youth.
2. Greater emphasis is placed on the training of youth in the area of entrepreneurship to encourage entrepreneurship in Jamaica.
3. The construction of community development centres is resumed and placed on government agenda to facilitate participation at the community level in the decision-making process as envisioned by both political parties.