by Kevon Browne
St Kitts and Nevis (WINN): The Alternative Lifestyle Pathway Fund, or the Peace Initiative as it is popularly known, is described as aiming to engage at-risk and marginalized individuals in properly structured legitimate activities.
In other words, the “Peace Initiative” launched by the Ministry of National Security in February 2019, aims to reduce the gang violence that claimed the lives of too many of the nation’s youth, destroying families and disrupting communities in its wake.
On April 22, 2020, at the NEOC Press Briefing, Police Superintendent Cromwell Henry indicated that major crimes had decreased by 78 percent for week 16 of 2020 compared to week 16 in 2019.
Major crimes include homicides, non-fatal shootings, robberies, break-ins, sexual assaults, drug offenses, damage to property, and more.
With the total number of reported crimes in St. Kitts-Nevis reduced by 41 percent over the first 16 weeks of 2020 compared to the same period for 2019.
Eight of those weeks were during the nationwide lockdown because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to an article on wicnews by October 2020, “the crime of shooting with intent is down by 75 percent, Attempted Homicide was down 80 percent; Serious Wounding lessened by 13 percent; Burglary slumped 53 percent; while sexual offenses were diminished by 20 percent.”
In his Independence address for 2020, Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris stated:
“We have seen an initiative geared towards the safety and security of our Nation take root, resulting in a drastic reduction in homicides and violent crimes across the Nation. The weeping and wailing of mothers and children whose sons and fathers were lost to gun violence have subsided thanks to our Peace Initiative and its Alternative Lifestyle Pathway. We will continue to reform it to consolidate the gains in law and order, peace, public safety and security.”
Many have expressed support for the “Peace Initiative” that purports to provide avenues for “at-risk and marginalized individuals” to start their own entrepreneurial ventures and steer others towards employment opportunities.
However, a report as to how the system is performing or information on how it is regulated has not been made available to the public.
So, how does the system work? And, how long will it last?
What about the source of the funds, the longevity of the funds, the possibility of these at-risk individuals demanding more and more?
Also, how long can an individual stay on the program before he/she ‘graduates’ into an upstanding citizen?
During the reading of the 2021 Budget Opposition Leader Dr. Denzil Douglas raised questions about the allocation of finances.
Is it $31 million or $10 million allocated for the Peace Initiative? he asked.
Douglas implied that the allocation was $31 million, Harris said he was purporting mischief and misinformation and that the allocation was $10 million.
During the 2021 budget hearing on December 16, 2020, Shawn Richards, Minister of Public Infrastructure, Post and Urban Development, explained that in the 2021 budget estimates, volume II, page 05-20, the total estimated cost for the Peace Initiative is EC$31 million with the expected expenditure for 2021 at EC$10 million.
The period for the $31 million is for three years, 2020-2022, WINN was informed.
The 2020 expenditure of the Peace Initiative was EC$12 million, suggesting EC$9 million is left to be spent for the initiative in 2022.
To be continued…