Team Unity Government Committed to PEP Reform says PM Harris

Basseterre, St. Kitts, October 17, 2015 (SKNIS): Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris, has promised that his government will restructure the People’s Empowerment Programme (PEP).

Responding to a question on the future of the PEP posed by a journalist at his monthly press conference on October 13, Prime Minister Harris disclosed that the 2016 Budget will include some changes to the PEP. Prime Minister Harris explained that the programme should be about skills advancement. He underscored the importance of such a program to train nationals in priority areas.

“PEP really should be about skills enhancement, ensuring that where there is a dearth in our country of certain skill sets that people are being trained to be able to do those things. So for example, steel bending, there is a high demand for those kinds of skills. You go on the job sites and you see what some may consider too many foreigners and you hear from the employers that you can’t find those skills in St. Kitts. That in our view, is what the PEP ought to have been.”

Prime Minister Harris explained that the reformation of the PEP would alleviate the current practice of having persons on the PEP for an extended period of time.

The Prime Minister also shared the view that the program should ideally provide participants with the soft skills that are required at the work place as well.

“Punctuality, something as basic as that, a sense of responsibility, a sense and an appreciation of what a fair day’s labour is all about—and a fair day’s labour in a country like ours in search of people centred development can’t be that people go out at 8am and by 9:30am they are finished with the work on the job and they are being paid a full day’s pay. It is a waste of the tax payers’ resources when those kinds of transgressions are allowed to happen.”

The Prime Minister was clear that the PEP will not be dismantled, but that his government will recreate the program to ensure that every citizen is prosperous and has a fair share.

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