By Carol Phillip-Tudor, Democrat Newspaper,
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end -Jeremiah 29:11
Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris, in his New Year’s address, outlined “A YEAR OF WONDERFUL POSSIBILITIES AND PROMISING OPPORTUNITIES” for Kittitians and Nevisians if only we would reach out and embrace it.
In highlights: St. Kitts and Nevis’s economy is expected to grow by at least 4.6 percent in 2016 according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Harris has said this is good news and not to be taken for granted, since in CARICOM (Caribbean Community), Latin America and other Caribbean regions the news is not as good – bigger countries such as Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago by contrast have imposed new taxes on their citizens.
In healthcare, the Mary Charles Hospital in Molineux will see much-needed repairs and an Oncology Unit at the JN France General Hospital will be readied. Government’s health centers and pharmacies will be better stocked with prescription drugs.
In the Ministry of Education, construction will begin on a new Basseterre High School.
Tourism will see improvement in infrastructure. More focus will go toward destination marketing, sports tourism and toward improved airlift to the federation to complement the additions of new airlifts by United Airlines; joining British Airways, US Air, and American Airlines that provide weekly flights to North American and European markets. Golfing tournaments and excursions will see increased activity.
Medical Universities, including Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine, will begin and continue on major constructions.
“The stimulation of activity and expansion in the SME (Small to Medium size Enterprises) sector are high expectations for 2016. This is being made possible through the “Fresh Start” loan programme recently launched by the Development Bank via the provision of a US$5 million loan facility from the Government of Venezuela . . . the SME sector will include job creation, increase in the number of entrepreneurs operating in the economic space, expansion in the local services and general trading sectors, and a widening of the tax base, as these SME beneficiaries generate sales and pay their fair share of business taxes applicable to their levels of operations,” said Harris.
Agriculture, Energy and Manufacturing sectors will see new initiatives in 2016.
CBI (Citizens by Investment) programme’s incomes, increased 42.5 over the revenue projected in 2015 by the former government and are expected to continue to improve in 2016 to help sustain close working relationships with the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Canada, and the European Union.
Power will be firmly lodged back into the hands of the people of St. Kitts and Nevis, with the overhaul of the Department of Constituency Empowerment into the Department of People’s Empowerment. The affairs of St. Kitts and Nevis’ citizens in the Diaspora will be addressed through this Department.
Law and Order will experience new leadership in the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force including the installation of a new High Command. Current reports suggest that former Assistant Commissioner of Police, Mr. Vaughan Henderson, has been transferred to the (DDP) Director of Public Prosecutions office and Acing Commissioner of Police, Mr. Stafford Liburd, is expected to retire. The Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs will also address the maladies of court backlogs and practices of poor legal representations. A second high court judge, new courtroom, and improve prosecutorial procedures will be introduced.
Public Sector Reform: “While the historic civil service model is one based on the award of increments, it stands to reason that such increments are dependent on satisfactory performance appraisals. Yet, what has been allowed to fester is a culture of entitlement among some ranks within the public service where increments are being viewed as earmarks rather than a deserved reward for performance. This has to stop. It is a mindset that has to be changed. We will promote a Fresh Start . . . in 2016; there will be heightened efforts to advance our public sector reform programme, beginning with the completion of job descriptions where none currently exist, and the development of matching performance appraisals to accurately determine execution of assigned duties.”
People’s Employment Programme (PEP) has cost the country over $165 million to date. In 2016, PEP will be re-vamped and re-purposed. “In this regard, we solicit the cooperation of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce and the Hotel and Tourism Association,” Harris has said.
Conveying his wish to the nation for a prosperous New Year on behalf of the Team Unity Administration, Harris adds, “This is our Nation to love, to treasure, to develop, and to defend. This Team Unity administration assumed office based on prayer and intercession and upon the faith and courage of countless individuals, who have put our Country above partisan politics”.
To maintain that status quo of a God-centred St. Kitts and Nevis, Harris has said he will consult the Minister of Ecclesiastical Affairs, the Hon. Vance Amory, to convene a week of prayer early 2016.
Harris concludes, “Let us therefore greet the New Year 2016 with open arms, assured that every move that we make is done with prior consultation and guidance from Almighty God.”