Basseterre, St. Kitts (SKNIS): On August 14, 2021, Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris held a lengthy consultation session with the various business owners of Port Zante regarding the way forward for the upcoming cruise season. Prime Minister Harris stressed to the business owners that he supports the need for Port Zante to welcome cruise ships but indicated that the main priority of his government was to protect the lives of every citizen and resident of the Federation.
“Clearly there is always value in consultation. If the government does not listen and does not hear from our various stakeholders we cannot then formulate policy that would benefit you. That is why we consult, and consultation will continue to be a part of the modus operandi of this government. We can tell you what we expect now, but next week if the situation changes there will be a change in the policy because this is the reality of the world in which we live now. What we are dealing with is something external to us and we have to live with it, and we have to live with it in a way that we do not destroy lives and that is the tension,” said Prime Minister Harris.
During the consultation session, business owners expressed the need to have the cruise lines return to Port Zante in order for them to reopen their shops and kick start economic activity after 16 months of partial closure. Prime Minister Harris stated that COVID-19 is still a developing phenomenon and the government has taken the ‘Life First’ strategy in managing the pandemic.
“The COVID-19 is one externality that we are now learning how to live with and we haven’t had a long time in attempting to learn about it. Some of the things for example when we started this pandemic we are now only beginning to get answers. There was a time where there was a doubt about if people with significant conditions could take the vaccine and then an answer came. There was a time when it was in doubt that women who are pregnant could take the vaccine and the answer came only recently. So, it’s an evolving situation but what we can say to you is that our focus is a ‘Life First Strategy’ and it will always be a delicate balance between lives and livelihoods,” said Prime Minister Harris.
Also present at the consultation sessions were the Honourable Lindsay Grant, Minister of Tourism; the Honourable Attorney General, Vincent Byron; the Honourable Wendy Phipps, Minister of Labour and Trade; Cabinet Secretary, Mrs. Josephine Huggins; Financial Secretary, Mrs. Hilary Hazel; Chairman of the National COVID-19 Task Force, Mr. Abdias Samuel and Medical Chief of Staff of the Joseph N. France Hospital, Dr. Cameron Wilkinson.
Further, Prime Minister Harris indicated to the Port Zante business owners present at the consultation that the matter of the upcoming cruise season will be discussed at the Cabinet level this coming Monday (August 16) and the decision coming out of that meeting would be communicated to them before next Wednesday.