My fellow citizens and residents, here in Nevis and across the diaspora, I wish for you a prosperous and blessed new year. As we start a new year, with new expectations and new beginnings, let us be thankful that we are alive to see 2022. As we briefly reflect on the challenges of 2021…. the uncertainty of COVID-19, the uncertainty of economic development and the uncertainty of life itself, no one knows what 2022 holds in store for us, and so, we must remain steadfast in prayer and be thankful for life and for the joyous moments in our lives.
As we start 2022, we must be resolved as a people, to work towards recreating the prosperity that Nevis once enjoyed and we must be resolved, to be responsible for our actions or inactions. 2022 will most likely be an election year. Let us therefore reflect on this quote attributed to the late Desmond Tutu which states: “My father always used to say, “Don’t raise your voice. Improve your argument’…..For 2022, let us improve our arguments, be deliberate in our actions and let us be certain of the results that we expect to improve our lives and the quality of life for us all.
The Nevis Reformation Party, which I am humbled to lead as we venture into 2022, has one primary argument: Much more can be done to make life better for the people of Nevis.
The highest law of the land, the constitution of St. Kitts and Nevis, gives Nevis a wide range of exclusive legislative and executive powers to chart our own future. In 2021 there was much angst about Nevis’ fair share of the CBI money, yet there is no debate or argument at the Federal level regarding a solution to this matter. Under the current political construct, there is little productivity from the NIA, as three NIA senior ministers now work full time in the Federal government.
The people of Nevis deserve a fully functional federal office in Nevis, staffed by residents of Nevis, to carry out federal mandates in Nevis, separate and apart from the NIA. Many can recall when passports for the people of Nevis were issued by the Federal Office on Government Road. There are many other Federal responsibilities such as the Payment for PEP and the Peace initiative that are commingled with the functions of the NIA and that should not be so. Additionally, implementation of the CBI programme, matters pertaining to civil aviation, severance payments, access to grants, technical assistance and other federal resources should be more accessible to the people of Nevis separate and apart from the NIA. The excessive commingling of Federal responsibilities with NIA responsibilities, and the NIA now dependent on the Federal Government to pay its civil servants, makes it difficult to seriously debate Nevis’ fair share of any federal receipts.
For 2022, we must work together, with a clear vision and understanding that Nevis has a certain level of autonomy, with its own legislature and its own administration and can take significant strides to be more productive, to be more self-reliant and to improve the quality of life for the people of Nevis. Galatians chapter 5 verse 13 tells us …You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. Whatever the political construct that exists in St. Kitts and Nevis, it should be for the benefit of the people, not for self-indulgence and to the detriment of the people of Nevis.
Decision making at the highest level in Nevis has primarily benefited a few, dominated by men and centered around direct taxation for infrastructure (Roads) development. A large percentage of our population are youth and women. For 2022 our decision-making must be more inclusive and take more diverse perspectives of nation building into consideration.
Climate change, food security and environment must be dealt with more strategically and more forcibly in 2022. Developing renewable energy on Nevis, expanding our tourism product, through the development of sports and natural resources, as well as advancing our creative arts would spur job opportunities and put Nevis back on the path to economic recovery and sustainability….. to make life better for the people who reside on Nevis.
Our education system, which was battered but not broken because of Covid-19, should be aligned with the direction in which Nevis is going. There must be more emphasis on preparing our youths for the digital age which we now occupy. Our responses to climate change…. and renewable energy….. and food security, health care and governance will all be driven by technology. We must therefore empower our youths through scholarships, training and job opportunities so that they can be proud of their contributions to the development of our country.
As we reassess our values and priorities at the start of 2022, let us be reminded that the NIA has not pointed to any new plans or initiatives for rebuilding the economy of Nevis and provides no hope for our youths to become inspired and motivated to reach the mountain top.
Your Nevis Reformation Party continues to work hard because NEVIS is our priority. I close by wishing us all, a safe and productive 2022, filled with God’s blessings and his divine mercies. Let us remember that we have attained certain freedoms that we must capitalize upon for the sustainable development of Nevis.
Despite all the plans and hopes for the new year, we must be mindful of COVID-19 and the variants that pose a real threat to our development here on Nevis. Vaccinated or not, we must continue to adhere to the non-pharmaceutical measures of social distancing, sanitizing and mask wearing. I also encourage the government to engage all doctors, to take the time to understand the reasons for vaccination hesitancy and to move expeditiously to address those concerns. Above all, let 2022 be a year of prayer…. for good to prevail over evil, and a year of positivity, hope, love, and of healthy living. May God continue to bless us all and may he continue to bless St. Kitts and Nevis.