Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Honourable Stephenson King, has announced that he will make a bigger financial allocation towards the Holistic Opportunities for Personal Empowerment (HOPE) programme, when he presents the 2010/2011 national budget which is scheduled for the 19th of April.
The prime minister says the increased budget for the HOPE programme is in keeping with his government’s interests to provide the necessary safety nets for vulnerable citizens.
Mr King says funds will be channelled through the Saint Lucia Social Development Fund (SSDF), and will go a long way in addressing social problems like poverty, unemployment, and crime.
“Last year we implemented the programme in a pilot phase and it was a tremendous success; in fact we were overwhelmed. This year it is our hope that having learnt from the experience and the reception citizens gave to the programme, we intend to look at other areas and sectors where we can use the programme for the benefit of our citizens in various communities.”
Prime Minister King also reaffirmed his commitment to social reform.
The prime minister says his government wants to work closer with residents of vulnerable and troubled communities to address their concerns and improve their standard of living.
“In recent times we have seen some efforts on the part of residents from the Wilton’s Yard Community and they must be commended for the efforts because they have come forward and indicated that that they want to participate in nation building and they want to give back to the country and community” the prime minister observed.”I am hoping that at some stage, government can dialogue with them to see how we can address some of the problems affecting the youth in the ghetto, as we call it, and in communities where most times the youth feel they have been let down and abandoned.””We don’t want a society where people are rebelling, because they feel the system has failed them. It is our responsibility to support them especially when they have indicated that they want to help themselves; we must move in as a government to help them reform themselves and their communities,” the prime minister said.
Prime Minister King says government will work with all interests to improve the social fabric of the country and enhance the standard of living of all residents.