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Prime Minister the Hon. Bruce Golding said that the upcoming development of the Caymanas lands, along with the earmarking of funds for entrepreneurship, will directly stimulate the Portmore economy. He was speaking at the Town Hall meeting in Portmore St. Catherine last night (May 26).
Noting that “It is through small business that we can have the fastest impact on the largest number of persons,” the Prime Minister recalled his budget presentation where $1B each will be provided for micro and small businesses, and $250 million for 2009 school leavers.
Mr. Golding said that this should positively impact the lives of people in Portmore, the Caribbean’s greatest concentration of skilled labour.
“Although Portmore has the largest concentration of skills it also has one of the largest concentrations of underemployment. You can bring investments here and you can be assured that the skills can be found,” the Prime Minister said to a large audience at the Portmore HEART Academy.
Mr. Golding announced that the Youth Empowerment Programme (YEP) will be launched in July and acknowledged that the project came with a high degree of risk, but he believed that it was necessary to give youth a chance to create their own employment as the economy could not support large employers.
“It is an investment of faith. If you are serious about what you want to do; you have learned some things at school, you may not have learned enough to fly entirely on your own but let us hold your hand and let us see if we can help you to make a start and guide you to success.”
The Prime Minister also said, “If we can encourage a new culture of entrepreneurship among young people, so that they are not as dependent on jobs, since the economy is not now in a position to provide jobs for the 39,000 persons we have leaving school each year, if we can help them with their own creativity and their own willingness to do hard work and if we can guide them, then what we can do is to enable them to move on the road to independence.”
Speaking further on the development of the Caymanas lands, the Prime Minister noted that a section was set aside for a university village where offshore colleges could use shared facilities. This would also generate a wide variety of jobs that Portmore would be able to satisfy.
The meeting was attended by hundreds of persons from the Portmore area and supported by Ministers Hon. Bobby Montague and Hon. Karl Samuda, Members of Parliament, including Fitz Jackson and Colin Fagan. His Worship the Mayor of Portmore Keith Hinds, Parish Councillors and elected members of community associations were also present to represent their constituents. This is the second Town Hall meeting of the Prime Minister. The meetings will be held monthly with the next one set for the end of June.