I have travelled around the island several times, during the day and at nights and the impression that stays with me is the pride of our people in taking care of their homes and their communities. Nevis has never been neater and I must give credit to every community that has demonstrated community pride. I am also so pleased to observe the efforts that have been made in the preparation of various Christmas trees on the island which also demonstrates the rising community consciousness once again on the island of Nevis. I have encountered so many students with their smiling faces returning home for Christmas. Students who are living their dreams and ambitions because this Government has promised the people of Nevis that one of its objectives is to have a graduate in every home on the island of Nevis. Young people are studying Law, Medicine, Accounting, Management, Foreign Languages, Mathematics, the various subjects in the field of Technology, such a wide range of subjects that Nevis will never be the same again. And all for the better. I have seen Choral groups performing at the Performing Arts Centre and elsewhere on the island. Young emerging groups at St Thomas’ School, Jessups, in the St James’ and St John’s Parish.
When we contemplate all these happenings we must have a sense of comfort but we must also compare this to the many problems and the negative events in other parts of the world that are so frightening. We cannot overlook the slaughter of twenty (20) children in Connecticut in the United States and the claim that the only form of protection for schools is for good men with guns to confront bad men with guns. We know we have our challenges here and we are addressing them and addressing them successfully.
The crime rate has gone down and many of our young men who strayed from the establishment, are now seeking to become part of civil society again. Obviously, the Government has done a number of things right. Great credit must be given to the Police as well and to the communities which have cooperated with the Police. Let us continue even as negative events unfold in other parts of the world, let us continue to reduce crime and focus on good and positive things in our country.
Very briefly, I want to focus on 10 scenarios which I believe impacted positively on us the people of Nevis, our youth, our not so young and our seniors.
Firstly, I touch on the initiatives that have been taken to bring our senior citizens back into the main stream of our social life. What a wonderful thing that they can have exercise classes, play steel pan and do creative things together, even participating in Concerts on a regular basis. It has never been better for them and for us as a people because we have demonstrated that we care.
(2) The Housing Programme continues all around the island. One visitor from Leeds, England expressed with astonishment the beauty of the affordable homes East of Cotton Ground. The same sense of astonishment and pride is expressed when people visit Hamilton, Jessups, Maddens and Newcastle. Housing is part of a basic need. But housing that is planned and well executed is a thing of joy and pride.
(3) The community centres that were established in St James’ and St Thomas’ Parish received considerable criticism in the early phases of construction. It was suggested that perhaps the money could have been spent on building a prison or police station. Today we are witnessing the emergence of that spirit of community consciousness and cooperation, which was essentially Nevisian in the past and comes because these centres are in use and the activities are all focused on community young and old. Emerging from these areas as well are groups which have gotten into enhancing their community and building the stock of human capital that augurs well for the future of Nevis. Again what we have demonstrated is that there are alternatives to prison. What may be the solution in some societies that may be no solution for us. We will continue to make our communities and our societies strong by doing positive things and by doing things that have been tried in the past and things that works.
One of the major points that I must highlight is the fact that we were able to maintain our Government workers in the face of the worse recession and that we were able to use various economic approaches to maintain the private and public sector. I am so pleased that we in St.Kitts and Nevis were able to hold things together, when many of our neighbours were falling apart. Of course we are not rejoicing and we have much to thank God for.
I am pleased with the initiative that the Government took with the Four Seasons Resort. Many of our workers complained that they were disadvantaged at the Four Seasons Resort and did not feel part of the success story there. Your Government has been able to negotiate successfully with the Four Seasons Resort the following:
a. More locals will be given a chance to advance up the chain of management.
Two (2) trainee Resort Assistant Managers have already been appointed and ten (10) Supervisors were recently trained.
In the New Year another fifteen (15) Supervisors will be trained. In addition eighteen (18) persons who were graduate of the 2 high schools will be trained in Culinary Arts.
Your Government has worked with the SIDF in the Federal Government to provide funds and training for young entrepreneurs, to provide employment for young persons and initiatives for the employed and the unemployed.
The Laptop Programme touched every home on the island of Nevis. It has opened new horizons for young people and their parents as well who are now using the laptops and exposing themselves to the World Wide Web.
Finally, I was so pleased with the Agreement this Government signed and was able to make with the University of the Virgin Islands to accommodate fifteen (15) students every year. Already three (3) students have signed up for January of the New Year and I anticipate a hefty number for the summer of 2013.
We were spared any major natural disaster this year – hurricane, earthquakes, fire so we have much to thank God for. We were generously blessed with a good supply of rain and sunshine, good health, water and good roads everywhere. We are to thank the good Lord for his many blessings.
I therefore end by saying we had our challenges, we had our fair share of crime, we had to ship out our very sick to Panama and Cuba but thank God we had some place to ship them to. We had to face our challenges but we have survived and we are doing well. Let us therefore, as we celebrate Christmas remember the golden rule, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” and share and extend love and charity and best wishes to our neighbours.
On behalf of the Government, Cabinet colleagues and Advisers, my wife and family, I extend best wishes to the hardworking Government Workers and the people of Nevis in general. May you have a blessed Christmas, where peace and good will abound.