BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, JULY 12TH, 2017 (PRESS SEC) – Retired Major General Stewart Saunders, who is St. Kitts and Nevis’ new National Security Advisor, supports the St. Kitts-Nevis Government’s holistic and humanistic approach to fighting crime, Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris said yesterday, Tuesday, July 11th, 2017, in the National Assembly. 

“The General understands and has emphasized that we need a holistic approach to crime-fighting in St. Kitts and Nevis,” Prime Minister Harris said about the Federation’s new chief professional advisor on national security matters.

“There must be a humanistic approach,” the Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis continued, asserting his administration’s commitment to elevating the dignity of citizens and residents and ensuring that they are given opportunities and skills not only to improve their life circumstances and chances, but also to be safe from the scourge of crime.

Prime Minister Harris went on to say that, “There is a need to change the mind-set of children in their formative age groups.  Primary schools must be targeted for action.  They must be taught that some of the persons whom they perceive as mentors and who are gang members are not appropriate [to turn to] for mentorship, and there is a need to bring back the belief system in society away from radicalism and violence.  At-risk youths are the ones that need to be targeted starting right now, with legislation, with a proper rehabilitation process, as well as with anti-corruption measures.”

Indeed, the retired Major General has a long history and an avid interest in doing outreach to young people and vulnerable groups. 

For instance, when he led the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) as its Chief of Defence Staff from 2007 up to his retirement in 2010, Major General Stewart Saunders signed a Memorandum of Understanding on behalf of the JDF that would positively impact the lives of many young people.

“Today marks a significant milestone in the evolution of this partnership that I hope will grow from strength to strength, delivering the desired impact needed to build a better Jamaica,” Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Stewart Saunders said during the signing ceremony.

Here is how a JDF press release described the signing: “Wednesday 09 December 2009 was a very important day in [the] lives of many Inner City kids as the Jamaica Defence Force, the Desnoes and Geddes Foundation and the Kingston Restoration Company signed a Memorandum of Understanding at the Red Stripe House Conference Room for the development of the Old Pechon Street Brewery, downtown Kingston to become the Diageo Learning for Life Institution of Jamaica.”

Red Stripe, a Diageo Company, is the trading name of Desnoes and Geddes Limited.

The December 2009 press release by the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) continued: “This signing will promote development and employment opportunities for young persons enrolled in the Diageo Learning For Life Projects Bartender and Artist and the JDF’s ‘Possibilities Programme’… The JDF will also support Red Stripe’s Artist music by providing instructors from the Jamaica Military Band and the Regiment Drum Corps as well as Officers and Warrant Officers to act as mentors for young persons participating in the various youth enhancement programmes.”

Desnoes & Geddes Limited would later proudly announce in its 2010 Annual Report that, “The company continued its Responsible Drinking campaign and through the Diageo Learning for Life Programme 73 students graduated and another 40 students are midway through a Project Bartender programme.  Pechon Street has been refurbished and will become the permanent home of Diageo Learning for Life in Jamaica.”

Diageo Learning for Life projects “match high-potential individuals with vacancies within our industry’s value chain and reduce the gap between young people’s skills and the competencies required by employers,” states the Learning for Life Facebook page.

“By ensuring work experience for at least 70 percent of participants upon completing the training, Diageo supports the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of achieving employment and decent work for all,” the Facebook page adds.

Here in St. Kitts and Nevis, the Team Unity Government launched the Skills Training Empowerment Programme (STEP) on February 16th, 2017.  STEP provides valuable real-world training to participants, equipping them with the right skills to fill vacancies and achieve upward mobility.

A Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) study of the now-defunct PEP programme in St. Kitts and Nevis revealed in 2015 that, startlingly, only 130 people (114 females and 16 males) out of the approximately 4,000 participants had benefited from sustainable training.  PEP – STEP’s precursor – was established by the previous administration in 2012. 

Ms. Inci Otker, the International Monetary Fund’s mission chief on the 2017 Article Four (IV) Consultation to St. Kitts and Nevis, told the Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister on Thursday, May 4th, 2017 that the move to implement STEP is a welcome one. 

The IMF official also remarked upon the holistic and humanistic approach that the St. Kitts-Nevis Government is taking to spur economic growth.  “What we [the IMF] also like is that they would like to enhance the resilience of the economy and also make any growth that will be achieved inclusive, which we interpret as spread the benefits of growth across the population, take care of the poor as well as the more wealthy, and also address some of the social issues like health, non-communicable diseases, as well as poverty and crime.  These are all very important objectives to address and we welcome the authorities’ efforts in that direction.”