My fellow Citizens, Residents and Friends,
I greet you at the dawn of this New Year and I do so trusting that you have a new perspective on what is possible during this year of our Lord 2014, recognizing that there is a glimmer of HOPE on the horizon which beckons us to a future which is much brighter than the past through which we have come. It is to that future that I wish to point you and encourage all of you to grasp the opportunities with enthusiasm and great expectation.
During this year, I wish to encourage all of us as citizens of this fair land to take a look at where we are individually and collectively and let us seek to devise a plan to so order our lives that we reflect, in our actions, new attitudes and approaches to build a better and more harmonious society and a country of which we can truly be proud and in which we can find opportunity for entrepreneurship and prosperity.
I am aware, that all of us as citizens long for the days when we were able to noticeably perceive positive growth in our economy, when we were able to enjoy a comfortable quality of living and had great expectations that day after day we would be able to manage our affairs without undue stress and fear of the cost of living and its attendant pressures.
It is my conviction that each one of us, can begin to address this turn around in our attitude to life and see through the looking glass of life a new day, a new dimension to living which begins within us.
In assessing the economic outlook for 2014, it is essential that we recognize that your Government has set out a fairly clear path which, with the support of all of our citizens, can bring about the recreation of a vibrant economy with the Public Sector/ Private Sector partnership which has been set out in the 2014 Budget and which will form the basis and the foundation of this economic thrust to create employment and begin the upswing in economic growth for the future.
It is imperative that the private sector investors continue to take a positive lead in taking advantage of the concessions and the fiscal incentives which the Nevis Island Government can provide to facilitate their investment, to create employment and expand economic activity in our country. I wish to commend all of our Private Sector partners, who have demonstrated a willingness to invest in our country. I am convinced that this is a show of confidence which will continue in the long run.
In the Budget for this new fiscal year 2014, your government has indicated that there will be a boost in the construction industry which will see the creation of near to 100 new jobs which in turn, will have the effect of boosting demand in the economy and thus creating additional jobs.
I spoke specifically of the investment of more than US$60million by the developers of the Four Seasons Resort Estate on Pinney’s Beach and the new Villa Development which will see an investment of US$100million. These are already committed investments for the further development of the real estate sector to further enhance the high end tourism infrastructure in Nevis.
In addition, I am assured by the owners of the Mount Nevis properties that they will have ground breaking for the US$60million development of additional villas to expand this very important property. This will create employment for some 50 construction workers to enhance the level of employment in Nevis.
This is in addition to other Private Sector investment in the renovation and expansion of Villa Paradiso now renamed Paradise Beach which is a unique property which will add a new level of attraction to the Nevis Tourism product to increase economic activity in Nevis.
There are other potential viable Private Sector projects which will come on stream during the course of this year but it is to those which are already in an advanced stage that I have directed our attention in this statement, to get you my fellow citizens to see the possibilities and the opportunities which the Private Sector/ Public Sector partnership will provide in this new year.
As a Government, we intend to embark on at least two projects to ensure that the employment in Nevis increases in this New Year 2014.
In addition to the Hamilton Road Project and the other secondary road development which will be undertaken, your Government is intent on the construction of the new Laboratory at the Alexandra Hospital and the rehabilitation and expansion of the two government owned buildings near the Alexandra Hospital, to create office space for the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs. The Ministry of Works has been mandated to have the plans ready for the implementation of these projects within the first quarter of this year.
After some more careful assessment, the historic Government House will be rehabilitated and this as well will see additional work being created later in the year.
While these Public Sector projects will put some demand on the Treasury, your Government has put together a Project Development Plan which will see the further cooperation between the Public and Private Sectors to deliver these projects and create some needed activity in the Nevis economy.
It is my hope that the Federal Government will give full support through the Citizenship by Investment Programme and the SIDF for these projects, most of which are seeking approval for this programme. This would be the stimulus which will drive these development projects and employment on Nevis.
During this year, your Government will concentrate on development of affordable energy for the people of Nevis.
The Government will be working to ensure that the Geothermal Energy Project gets up and running and will also work with a private sector company to produce energy from waste generated in Nevis. This could be the beginning of a full resurgence of the Nevis Island Economy and contributing to the development of a green and environmentally friendly Island Economy.
During the year as well, as we focus on developing a green economy, I wish to encourage all of our citizens and residents to take control of their health and seek to develop healthy lifestyles. In this regard, I encourage all of us to develop healthy eating habits and to support the “buy local” thrust which will be promoted by the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Health – “Try it you will like it”
It is also imperative that we pay attention to the security and stability of our country. In this regard, it is your Government’s intention to increase the security surveillance systems around the island to ensure that all of our citizens can live and enjoy this Land of Beauty, in a safe and harmonious environment which will further enhance the attraction of our country for future investment and economic activity, to restore the quality of life for our people.
In this environment our people could be empowered to be self-reliant through long-term meaningful employment. This will be the turning point in the future empowerment of our people but it will take serious commitment and dedication to duty to accomplish this objective. We have been tested and tried and it is through this testing that we will be able to determine our strength and our resilience as a people
My fellow Citizens, Residents and Friends, we will not only seek to enhance the physical and social infrastructure in Nevis but we will revamp the human resource infrastructure as well. Within the month of January, we will be making some changes to enhance the efficiency and the professionalism in the Public Service.
It is imperative that we seek to remove the anomalies in the Public Service as far as possible and to ensure that the structure and the procedures which should govern the practices in the Service are properly understood and followed, in order to raise the standard of discipline and professionalism. This will ensure, that our people who are served by the Public Service employees, get the type of quality service which they expect and those who serve the public can feel a sense of pride in performing their duties as well.
The four percent increase which will be given to the Public Service employees should be seen as an incentive to all and it is expected that this additional cost to Government will cause our Public Service employees to continue to work with diligence for the good of the whole country.
In order to accomplish this revamping of the Public Service, it is the intention of your Government to strengthen the Human Resource Department by establishing a Personnel Division which will have the responsibility of dealing with individual personal issues, seeking to provide some support system for all Public Service employees who may require assistance in developing further in the Service.
This Department will provide training, counselling, career guidance and will be used to source scholarship funding for those who may wish to pursue tertiary education. This Personnel Division will work closely with all Permanent Secretaries and Heads of Departments to serve all the Ministries.
It is also the intention of your government to focus more on the issues of our young people in our schools and in the communities as well. There is so much that could be accomplished by putting a greater emphasis on our youth in sports and games and in cultural and social developmental issues.
I wish to encourage all of our young people, to take advantage of the opportunities for the development of their talents and abilities in whatever areas will be provided in school and in the Adult and Continuing Education programmes. I am enlisting all of our teachers and community and social workers in this effort to transform our society.
It is clear that some areas of our Human Resource need to be strengthened and in this regard, your Government will give special priority to training in those areas which will help to strengthen the teaching of English , Mathematics, Sciences, Technical and Vocational and Health related areas.
We have set out a comprehensive plan to enhance and upgrade the health services in our country. While we appreciate that there are significant challenges in providing a first-class health service in all areas of need, we will ensure that there is good quality primary care for all and seek to provide whatever assistance, where our citizens and residents may require specialized health care at other institutions. The matter of Universal Health Insurance will be explored in collaboration with the Federal Government. This is an important initiative and it is my hope that it can be achieved in 2014.
In this New Year, your Government would like to see a new paradigm in the way our people think about life, about service and about developing new attitudes and attributes in themselves and towards others.
We want to recreate a harmonious society, a friendly environment, not only in the individual offices but in the entire Nevis community. This is imperative if we are to make Nevis a place where peace abounds and where those who do business with us feel comfortable and satisfied with the level of service they receive.
We have branded Nevis as a premier service oriented economy. We then must in this New Year adopt new approaches to marketing, promoting and presenting ourselves and our country.
It is already evident, that the new thrust to market Nevis more aggressively, once more, since the change of Government in January 2013, has begun to pay dividends. With an increase in airlift expected by the middle of January 2014 and the increase in visitor arrivals already scheduled, it is expected that there will be greater economic activity for our taxi service providers and businesses generally.
When our visitors and our citizens enter our airport and our seaport, they must feel a sense of welcome and courteousness which marks Nevis as special. There can be no place for uncouth behaviour by any of our people who provide service at any level or in any office.
Each one of us must be an ambassador for our country and begin, this New Year, to make that paradigm shift to put country above self and make Nevis a country of prosperity and peace; a country in which we respect democracy and the rule of law and in which we respect our Constitution and the Institutions which guide our country.
We must seek to build a country in which we can live in harmony and of which we can feel proud because all of us have committed to cooperate in the partnership with Government to make our country rise again.
The task ahead will not be easy as the challenges are great but with the challenges, let us seek the opportunities to make the difference.
Let me extend to all of you my fellow citizens and residents, every good wish for a healthy, prosperous and happy New Year and may God bless us all. Happy New Year!