It is a joy to be alive today. We have seen so many new developments in the field of telecommunications and technology which other generations never had the privilege to dream about. This message therefore is available to all of us in print and audio wherever we are at this time. I am pleased that every one of us can and will be fully briefed regarding the state of affairs of our Nevis and the hopes and plans for the New Year.
2011 had its many challenges. Of course, we had our successes and frustrations, our hopes and our disappointments.
Firstly, we were spared by the hand of God from any visitation of hurricanes, storms or any other form of disaster. Rather we were blessed by one of the better rainy seasons for the better part of the year that left Nevis so lush and naturally beautiful.
At the end of the year Four Seasons Hotel was absolutely full and over 100 temporary workers were able to obtain part-time work in addition to their regular occupations. While, therefore many persons in other lands were struggling for a job and recession reached its destructive fingers throughout the streets of Europe and further afield, we in Nevis could and did give God thanks for his many mercies.
2011 saw the expansion of Brown Hill Communications and over 200 persons are now employed. I am informed that another 150 persons will be recruited in the New Year. I only hope that we as Nevisians will give serious consideration to the state of the world economy at this time and will submerge the little prejudices some harbor that they dislike working in the company of so many females and embrace the opportunities that become available.
2011 also saw a new drug store arriving on the island, Chiverton’s Industrial Gas Company opening its doors and the coming of Horsfords Valumart. These activities generated over 40 additional jobs on Nevis.
Construction started very strong in 2012. The Government’s $10 million stimulus package created over 100 jobs and resulted in the George Mowbry Hanley Public Market in Charlestown. It is a magnificent piece of work and it provides a superior service for the whole island. Community Centers have been completed in Jessups, Cotton Ground, Fountain and Combermere. Over the next 6 months, a range of people focused programs will be introduced for the educational, professional, cultural and recreational benefit of these communities.
The school meals kitchen program at the Charlestown Primary School will impact every home in the New Year. Not only will the children who attend the school benefit from a heavily subsidized Government program, but sessions of training in the Culinary Arts will be conducted for the General Public.
As these projects came to a close construction activity tapered off. At the end of the year, we faced the unusual situation where levels of employment among the female population were higher than among our men. This situation calls for serious attention in the New Year.
2011 saw a drive and a thrust in higher levels of production in Agriculture. We saw the emergence of the Agro-processing Plant providing products for the supermarkets and the public in general and the abattoir’s products gaining in popularity in the supermarkets. Not only younger and stronger persons joined the team of farmers in the country, a greater number was prepared to adopt new methods of production which lead to greater farm output. Once again farmers were producing local provisions for the hotels every day of the year, a phenomenon not manifest since the early days of the 1990s.
In 2011, publicly constructed housing peaked at a total of 300 homes after 5 years of efforts of the Nevis Reformation Party. This figure compares favorably with only 114 houses built under CCM in the previous 14 years. Cherry Gardens continues as the centre piece of the Housing Program, but almost every area in the country can proudly identify with the Government’s Housing Program.
Our children continued the march of excellence both at Primary, Secondary and Sixth Form levels. Our teachers were outstanding and more and more parents, of both sexes openly and actively gave considerable support to their children.
Lap-top computers were distributed to the 6th, 5th and 4th Forms in all high schools. This initiative will have and has had effects immeasurable and more far-reaching than we now imagine.
Presently, there are over 140 students sponsored by this Government abroad, 17 are pursuing a profession in the field of Medicine and are in Universities in Cuba, Jamaica and the United States of America. Our students are reaching for excellence in Physics, Engineering, Aviation, the Arts, and Languages, every field of endeavor that will take this country forward and upward.
The Government continues training programs at home and abroad to build a bank of outstanding technicians, professionals, contractors, architects, designers and managers to re-enforce what NRP has achieved in 5 years. That is, every major position on this island, except in the Hotel Industry is held by a Nevisian. We need to change that.
Our hospital has been upgraded. The clinics are working and our social programs have impacted young and old. We have constructed new play-fields in Brown Hill, Cole Hill and Cotton Ground in 2012 and we continue the drive to restore Nevisian pride and high levels of performance in Sports.
Finally, the Performing Arts Centre is ready for Nevis. I regard this Performing Arts Centre as the show piece of our country, a demonstration of how far we have come and the excellent levels we have established for ourselves as a people.
2011 was the year of the Nevis election. The Nevis Reformation Party emerged victorious. Really, this should not be surprising to anyone. In the end the people wanted performance on their behalf; and in that area we were never challenged. The country needs to be healed. Mark Brantley and the CCM-Opposition need to accept their loss and let us continue our march forward as a united people.
As we move into the New Year, let us together pledge to build on the platform of past years.
We have faced and successfully overcome the worst storms of the world recession. In the dark days of the closure of the Four Seasons things were mighty gloomy. It was a time of many hardships and financial shortages. Nevisian fortitude, that strength of mind and sense of purpose, the firm belief in God took us through. That same fortitude and hope for better days, the confidence in self and the Government that will serve us in 2012.
Of course the recession is still with us. As a Government, and working with the Federal authorities we have already taken a number of measures to restore strength to the economy. The Value Added Tax (VAT) is in place, Property Taxes are re-organized and we have arranged to collect our Corporate Taxes on Nevis. As these measures are in place and the re-opening of the Four Seasons, our revenues for 2009, 2010 and 2011 have climbed respectively from $90.07 million, $93.99 million and $115 million.
We have sought to narrow the gap between current and capital expenditure and revenue annually. That is not enough. We must balance our annual budget and begin to reduce arrears. The Government has given itself 3 years to reach this goal with the help of IMF supervision. We are confident we can succeed with perseverance, creativity and the determination for which Nevisians are famous. Thus, we are cutting back on public expenditure. Therefore in 2012, we are investing only in 3 major areas.
A sum of thirty million ($30 million) will be spent on water development. Since in Government, we have provided an additional one million gallons of water daily to Nevis. By April, the Hamilton water tank will be providing over 400,000 gallons of water for the Charlestown area. The water distribution system will be modernized island-wide to face any eventuality, the demand of new projects, increases in population or drought.
Secondly, approximately $24 million dollars, a grant from Japan will be invested in a Fisheries Complex located in the vicinity of the Public Market. On completion a combination of the Fisheries Division and the Abattoir will change the style and delivery of local meat and fish to the Nevisian people.
The Hamilton/Government Road to the Alexandra Hospital will be refurbished; we all must agree that area has witnessed so many flood conditions over the last few years due to poor drainage and the interference with the water-courses in the Hamilton/Brazier area. Serious erosion is taking place in Stoney Grove and the road to our only hospital is sometimes virtually impassable. It is a priority for this Government and the whole island. We must take action now!
Over 100 persons will be employed as a result of these activities. We look to the private sector for continuing growth in employment. We are aware that a 14 unit mall will be constructed in the Stoney Grove area. The Cosmetology Clinic will commence construction in the New River area in the second quarter of the New Year at a cost of approximately $12 million. The Bank of Nevis continues its construction works and Social Security is scheduled to build a new complex in the Pinneys area. In the first half of the New Year, two Nevisian entrepreneurs – Mr. Deon Daniel and Mr. Greg Hardtman have entered into activities related to Tourism. Between both projects over 50 persons will be employed in the construction phase. By mid-year Nelson Spring Part 2 will be permanently employing some 50 persons. Villa Paradiso will be revamped employing another 25 persons and private construction at Tower Hill will employ over 50 persons.
Government will not be expanding its present staff in 2012. I urge all Nevisians to hold onto their jobs. Check your options, but be conservative in your decision-making. Those who are out of work seize opportunities. The matter of choice and preferences will come later.
The Government is also working very closely with a group based in England to resolve the matter of Pinneys Estate to allow that development of that property to move forward and continue to work with a number of investment groups who are interested in participating in the island’s development.
The Nevis Reformation Party Government has emphasized the need of economic diversification to achieve sustainability on Nevis. We seek to diversify within the Tourism Industry itself. The Ministry of Tourism will work with a number of groups on the enhancement of the Bath area including the environs of the Bath Hotel and the Bath Stream. Saddle Hill, part of the colonial defense system of Britain will be restored. The engineering works are a testimony to the craftsmanship and ingenuity of our African ancestors as well as the tremendous engineering skills of Britain can become part of the show-piece of the Botanical Gardens, Heritage Village and the Bath area as we continue to promote our interest in Cruise Tourism and re-create that sense of past achievements in our children.
Sustainability must be linked with cheaper energy and lower electricity rates. Sustainability must be linked with growth. If we must succeed in the long-terms to change the face of this country economically and socially we all need to embrace the development of alternative sources of energy. Cheap, clean energy mean savings, more jobs, more revenue and a country with a certain status that strengthens our Tourism product. This Government will continue its efforts to bring Geothermal Energy to this country. We have overcome many hurdles and we will succeed in the end.
In the area of Health, we intend to consolidate our position with a doctor to establish Nevis as a center for Urology. We are supporting an investor with a group which is seeking to construct a Decompression Plant for Divers. So many of our young Divers have been fatally injured or crippled over the years because we lack this service. Hopefully that will change in 2012.
The Government continues to upgrade and expand services at the Alexandra Hospital. We are working to develop dialysis services for patients who suffer from renal failure and efforts are on the way to arrange for a group of Surgeons to use Nevis as the northern hub for their operations. It is our goal to place the Hospital in a position where it pays for itself and it becomes an asset that would make it more feasible for persons with certain ailments to be comfortable in travelling to Nevis.
The Government continues is Programs of training in 2012. The community centers will become centers of excellence and will offer programs in Computer Training, Drama, Home Preparation, Parenting, Cooking, Personal Development, Reading and a place to pursue academic studies. Our Social Outreach Programs continue and we intend to sort out every form of child abuse that is perpetrated on our young people.
Presently over 140 students are studying abroad. The present economic pressures will not curtail our efforts to use education and training as a weapon against ignorance, bigotry and the exploitation of our people. In 1834 people of the African race on Nevis were freed from the bonds of slavery. Today our people must be released from any form of mental slavery or any attempt by anyone to control and direct the thinking of especially our young people. The road to true freedom is education. The road to complete development, personally and generally is through education and training. I appeal to all, I ask all young people to grasp the opportunity with the full might of your body, mind and spirit. Be masters of your destiny and not puny followers of bigotry and empty rhetoric.
Finally crime, too many murders took place in Nevis in 2011. Senseless murders by irresponsible and reckless young people. There were too many break-ins, many of them perpetrated by 17 and 18 year olds who should be under parental guidance. There is a need for discipline in the homes, the need to teach respect for self, parents and siblings. That is the long-term solution. We cannot as parents escape our responsibility.
In the meantime this Government continues its support for our security forces, the police. Please cease the tendency to attack the Police when they try to enforce the law. Now you attack them, then you run to them for succor. This ambivalent attitude to the Police helps no one and creates confusion in the minds of every-one. No more excuses. Let us be responsible citizens on Nevis.
In the New Year, the Police Academy is looking for 40 new recruits. I invite our young men to follow in the footsteps of other Nevisians who come up through the ranks and emerge as leaders in the Police Force. Let us remember, the ACP Mills, ACP Richards, Commissioner Charles and Austin Williams and Fahie, ACP Liburd, Superintendent Brandy, Seabrookes, Stapleton and Morgan and our present Deputy Commissioner Liburd. I call on all these officers to also go out and encourage our young men to join the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force.
In conclusion, the most difficult part of the work of recovery is behind us. The foundation is laid. The process of building continues. With the grace of God and the will to work we shall achieve much.
I appeal to you to let good sense prevail. Let us join together to build our country and make Nevis strong, make Nevis a place where people come and leave with a great hunger to return. Let us make Nevis the pride of the Caribbean where peace and prosperity abound.