We give thanks to God almighty for bringing us safely to the beginning of a new year. Indeed, 2020 can be recorded as the year of challenges, primarily because of COVID-19 and its far-reaching impacts that were felt here at home in Nevis and throughout the world. Beyond the sufferings created by COVID-19, we can recall moments of sadness that would be etched in our memories forever…. sudden and tragic deaths dotted our 2020 calendar, unemployment reached unprecedented highs, financial resources reached unprecedented lows and gender-based violence, unfortunately, raised its head in unexpected places.
Despite these sufferings, let us be thankful for life and the joyous moments we experienced during the past year. The birth of our 2020 babies, the graduation of our students from the various schools around our island , the goodwill of our corporate citizens and individuals in assisting those impacted by COVID-19 and the readiness of our frontline workers to help keep us here in Nevis safe. Of course, the sports enthusiasts would also remember the moment of joy, when our very own Bath United football team won the SKNFA division one championship!
As we witness the dawn of a new year, let us be certain, that although COVID-19 is still with us, 2021 brings an opportunity for renewal; 2021 also brings an opportunity for us to reevaluate our values and our priorities, not just for ourselves but also for our beloved island of Nevis.
We acknowledge that the impacts of COVID-19 and limited financial resources contributed to 2020 being one of the most challenging years for many of us. However, resource constraints and COVID-19 should not be blamed for the current NIA’s inability to develop strategies, policies and progressive legislation to address some of the chronic issues associated with health care, crime, education and socio-economic development that affect us year after year.
With no new Foreign Direct Investment, the economic growth of Nevis continues to lag; the NIA is increasingly reliant on the federal purse to pay its civil servants and the outlook for 2021 is defined by a budget that is entirely dependent on CBI funding, loans and taxes. Amidst the economic outfall of COVID-19 and lack of revenue generating opportunities, and despite the ECCB cautioning that economic recovery depends on the resilience of health systems, containment of COVID-19 virus, availability and access to vaccines, the NIA insists on undertaking new major capital projects in 2021, in excess of $60 million. Such ill-timed and poorly planned initiatives can only help to escalate financial slavery and further burden the taxpayers of this land.
Poor fiscal management and poor governance, under this NIA, has contributed to the economic hardships suffered by so many. Project after project incur significant cost overruns leaving nothing in the treasury to help support subsidy programs for the underprivileged during this COVID-19 pandemic. Construction of the Newcastle Police Station, for instance, is just one example of poor fiscal management under this NIA. This project commenced without a budget in place and it has been spend as you go to where there is now a whopping running tab in excess of $5.5 million, and the police station is yet to be functional. A quick look at the 2020 Nevis Housing and Land Development Corporation (NHLDC) scandal exemplifies the type of poor governance that plagues Nevis and our taxpayers year after year. One person must now wear two hats, as Minister with oversight of the Corporation and at the same time as Chairman of the Board of the Corporation, to investigate the misappropriation of the Corporation’s assets. Revenues from taxpayers and public assets ought to be used for wise and planned development of the country and nothing else.
As we reassess our values and priorities at the start of 2021, let us be reminded that wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat (Mathew 7:13). Our economy is now in shambles and the existing NIA has not pointed to any new plans or initiatives for rebuilding the economy that they destroyed. Let us be resolute therefore, for 2021 and beyond, that we will not follow the broad and easy path that leads to destruction. Let us be resolved to no longer be complicit in the destruction of our NIA and let us be resolved to work hard to rebuild the vibrant and prosperous Nevis that we once knew.
The unwavering mission of the Nevis Reformation Party is to bring self-reliance and prosperity; good governance, prudent fiscal responsibility, hope and most importantly, a better quality of life for present and future generations who call Nevis home. No doubt, we as Nevisians have the tenacity and determination to build a better Nevis. What is needed, however, and what has been lacking in this NIA, is a clear vision of where we are going and how we will get there.
As we enter 2021, let our thoughts be centered around better representation and good governance that can be attained under this Nevis Reformation Party lead NIA. Let our thoughts also be centered around the opportunities that the NRP will provide for expanding the pillars of our economy, the opportunities for exploring new and innovative industries and opportunities for rebuilding an inclusive and prosperous Nevis for all who call Nevis home.
I close by wishing us all, a safe and productive 2021, filled with God’s blessings and his divine mercies. Let us remember that weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning (Psalm 30:5).
May God bless us all, May god bless St. Kitts and Nevis.