Young people may end up paying the heaviest price in the global financial crisis: Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar

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Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago

NARRATOR: It is the view of Trinidad and Tobago's Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar that while young people are innocent bystanders in the global financial crisis, they may end up paying the heaviest price as they will be called upon to work longer to service the debts accumulated in recent years and to support an increasingly ageing population. She told a High-level Thematic debate on "The State of the World Economy and Finance in 2012", that moreover, they face high levels of unemployment.

According to Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar, young people between the ages 15 to 24 are the most affected with youth unemployment climbing to record levels in a number of countries.

TAPE: In the Caribbean, we are facing a crisis in particular with male youths who are at risk and are drawn to the scourge of the illegal drug trade and gang activity. These youths appear to have been locked out of the modern economy as a result of them not properly accessing the required skills and training via the educational system. This stark reality requires aggressive and sustained action from us if we, as leaders, are to ensure that the legacy of "stolen dreams" is reversed by restoring hope and opportunity across the length and breadth of the global economy.

NARRATOR: Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar stressed that there is a significant amount of work to do!

TAPE: The goal of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago is to build an economy that is capable of generating endogenous growth based on knowledge generation and innovation, increased productivity levels and export expansion in order to create wider opportunities for high paying jobs at all levels. The eradication of poverty and the conditions that create and sustain poverty has become one of the top priorities of my Government. Specifically, our poverty-focused policies comprise a number of initiatives including the Regional Micro Project Fund, the Micro Enterprise Training and development Grant, and the Micro Enterprise Loan, all of which are designed to impact the incidence of poverty throughout various communities in Trinidad and Tobago.

NARRATOR: Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar said her government intends to reform the country's social safety net by establishing a comprehensive social security system, targeting women, the elderly, children and the differently-abled, as well as by assisting households to take hold of opportunities that create prosperity and reduce the number of people classified as poor by 2 percent each year.

TAPE: My Government's total policy framework is focused on delivering strong economic growth, more comprehensive and better targeted social programmes, including strengthening social protection for greater inclusiveness, and most importantly to improve access to education. I am confident that based on the reforms being undertaken in Trinidad and Tobago, we are in a position to play our part in addressing the effects of the world financial and economic crisis. However, we recognize that the problems created by this crisis require action from all our partners in the international community. Without concerted efforts, aimed at creating a sense of commonality, we would not be in a position to combat unemployment; increase stability and transparency in the financial sector; or create an environment for increasing production, trade and investment.

NARRATOR: Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said the United Nations has a central role to play in this transformation. She noted that as Trinidad and Tobago celebrate fifty years of membership in the United Nations, the republic remains committed to continue work with the United Nations and other multilateral agencies to bring about the desired changes in the international economic and financial architecture. This is Donn Bobb reporting.

Duration: 4’02″

Filed under Caribbean News.
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