Support for youth


The Opposition Barbados Labour Party has plans to fully embrace Barbados’ youth — and among them is a multi-million dollar increase in funding for sports.

Barbadians were given glimpses of the approach of the party seeking to form the next Government when the Bees held their annual conference over the weekend. Speaking yesterday, Opposition Leader Owen Arthur said:

“A fundamental aspect of any future transformation of the Barbados economy must entail the deliberate design of an economic system that can specifically accommodate the aspirations of our youth.

“By this I mean that we cannot just design an economy and hope that young people will fit into it. Rather we must deliberately design our economic policies and structures with our young people in mind, and allow more of our growth and the earning of foreign exchange to come from occupations that young people want to pursue and from which they can get lucrative careers.

“The potential benefits from such a developmental approach is massive because Barbados has barely scratched the surface in tapping into the vast market areas in which the services of young people are greatly in demand, and fetch extraordinary high prices.”

Arthur said he saw major potential in the international professional sports market, entertainment and cultural activities and “the vast range of service activities that draw upon the creative imagination of young people”.

“The time is especially ripe for more young Barbadians to be equipped to tap into international sports market as professionals, especially football,” Arthur said.

“Thanks to the previous BLP administration, sporting organisations now draw over $13 million per year from the lotteries. Arrangements shall be made to enable them to be able to have access to at least $25 million per year to begin with, so that they can give more professional contracts to national sportsmen, and can support development programmes to develop our young people to the stage where they can win contracts to perform as professionals in the global sports market arena.

“The David Thompson Football Competition honours the dead. We want to advance the interest of the living.”

The Opposition Leader said too his party would introduce an Innovation Fund, to be capitalised with at least $20 million in the first instance, with a commitment to expand it as necessary to enable young people involved in economic activity such as software development, film, video, music, fashion, electronic games and applications to have access to concessional financing to be able to follow their dreams.

“In 2007, we left office with a Cultural Industries and Creative Economy Bill ready to be used to transform the creative landscape of Barbados,” he said.

“It has remained in draft for four years while our young people have languished. That legislation will and must be acted on as a matter of urgency.

“The Government of Barbados also needs to invest in at least three mini stadia in the North, Centre and South of Barbados to allow professional sports to take root in this country.

“In addition, the Barbados Coalition of Service Industries was formed by the previous BLP administration to organise our non-traditional service providers, most of whom are young, and to help them to build capacity to supply the domestic market, and to penetrate foreign markets as services become more open through trade liberalisation.

“The budget of that organization has been ravaged by the DLP. We pledge to fully support the BCSI and to make it one of our leading national economic organisations.

“For our young service providers, selling their services in the new evolving global economy in ways made possible by the revolution in information technology, represents the best hope for a dramatic transformation of our economy.

“It is an opportunity we do not intend to miss.” (RRM)

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