By working together, 2020 can be the year we make our streets even safer, build bigger and better homes, create even more jobs, and provide more opportunities for our young people and for every other person. This will be the year we position St. Kitts and Nevis for a safer, stronger and brighter future.
Future generations will look back and say – “2020 is when St. Kitts and Nevis really stepped up. This was the year Team Unity consolidated the gains and built the safer, better and brighter future.”
And what an exciting future we have within our grasp.
Your Team Unity Government continues to deliver our long-term plan to keep our Federation heading in the right direction and to build a stronger and safer future.
Today, I will update you on the progress we are making and the new measures we are putting in place, to make that brighter and better future a reality.
Thankfully, that is in the past. To God we give the glory for our growing safety and security under Team Unity.
The people demonstrated their confidence in our safer communities by making this Carnival season the largest and the best in our Federation’s history. Record turnout was recorded at the Calypso show and other events.
Children, families, friends and even former foes laughed and danced together through the many events. Our J’Ouvert and Last Lap events were free of major incidents. Respect for law and order was high and noticeable.
During Carnival, people told me how safe they felt, how excited they were and how they never believed events in St. Kitts and Nevis could be held this way and without crime.
Our expats/returning nationals who came back are today saying that something good is finally happening in our Federation and they are proud of the progress being made.
We have seen what can be achieved when we are at peace – so why would anyone want to question that? Why would anyone want to change that? Unfortunately, there are some unpatriotic people who would rather put politics before the lives of our people and seek to score cheap political points.
But why do they want to take us back to the bloodshed, violence and death of the past? The record 35 homicides in 2011 was a collective shame. We must save our people from the senseless killing of each other and the disruption of our society. Too many mothers are in pain, because of the breakdown of law and order for 20 long years. We want a peaceful St. Kitts and Nevis – free of homicides.
As Prime Minister, I will do all I can to keep my Country safe.
We have come too far to turn back now.
We all know that it isn’t by luck or by chance that our streets are becoming safer. It is because Team Unity is putting people before politics and working to deliver a better future for all of us.
We cannot take our progress for granted.
2020 is not the time to go back to the same old ways, with the same old policies under the same old rejected leadership of the past. Instead, working together with a unified approach, we can build a safer, brighter and better future for all our people.
In contrast, in the last term of the rejected administration, the growth rate was negative in 2010, negative in 2011, negative in 2012, and positive in 2013 and 2014 – for an average growth rate over the 5-year period of just about 1 percent per year. The economy grew insignificantly over that time (2010 – 2014) despite the windfall of Citizenship-by-Investment (CBI) inflows.
The year 2019 recorded increased output in manufacturing, tourism, construction and retail and wholesale sectors. The St. Christopher Air & Sea Ports Authority (SCASPA) reports that our manufacturing enclave subsector did very well. We recorded 69,695 tons of merchandise, up 43,786 tons over the 25,909 tons realized in 2018 for a massive 169 percent growth in manufacturing exports year on year. This positive growth is expected to continue in 2020, with output driven by Harowe Servo and Jaro Ltd in the main.
The manufacturing enclave sector realized increases in job creation in 2019, led largely by expansion of production lines at Kajola Kristada. Over 1,084 workers are employed in this sector, comprising 142 workers at the Carib Brewery, 325 workers at Jaro Ltd, 222 workers at Kajola Kristada, 37 workers at Brush Ltd, 225 workers at API Harowe Servo, 68 workers at Electrofab and 65 workers at Sun Island Clothes. We are so proud of our workers in the manufacturing sector who are very skilled and very industrious. It was so unpatriotic of the opposition to rejoice when the vagaries of a highly competitive international market caused Lutron to close.
All the workers at Lutron were offered jobs by Jaro Ltd, and we are happy for them and we commend Jaro Ltd for absorbing these workers.
TDC was the largest beneficiary with 103 vehicles sold followed by S.L. Horsfords with 70 sales and C&C Auto Services with 46 sales.
In 2014, there were 155 vehicles sold on VAT days and 197 vehicles were sold in 2018.
The Inland Revenue Department collected a record $266 million in 2019 – its best collection to date – while the Customs and Excise Department collected $191 million – its largest collection since 2009.
People are confident in the health of the economy, and we encourage this upsurge in entrepreneurship.
More businesses mean more jobs, more wages and more opportunities for our young people, and for their parents, guardians and loved ones too.
It is a welcome development and one that we are keen to encourage.
In 2020, we intend to invest more in tourism.
A significant part of that investment will be made by the St. Christopher Air and Sea Nevis Ports Authority (SCASPA). We inherited a woefully inadequate and rundown tourism infrastructure. Prudent fiscal management never before practised as the rule allowed us to make significant progress in correcting the run-down infrastructure. We have rehabilitated our infrastructure at the RLB International Airport by investing in:
- Resurfacing of Runway, Taxiway “B” & “C” in asphalt.
- Installation of brand-new Runway solar lighting system.
- Installation of a new elevator within the Departure Hall.
- Installation of new conveyor belt systems and baggage carousels.
- Resurfacing of Taxiway “A” in concrete. Alpha Taxiway would be fully operational in the first quarter of 2020.
Work continues apace on Phase 1 of Sea View Vista Hotel.
T-LOFT at Wyndham and Ramada are both expected to complete Phase 1 of their properties and open later this year.
All these positive developments will provide good jobs for our people and strengthen St. Kitts and Nevis’ reputation as the most sought-after tourism destination.
The strengthening of our tourism sector shows that international investors are also confident in our economy and the right direction our Federation is heading, and they want to be an active part of that journey.
We welcome their enthusiasm and will be working hard over the coming year to attract even more investment.
That is why your Team Unity Government is committed to building bigger and better homes for all our families.
This month, the distribution of the National Housing Corporation’s (NHC’s) housing solutions will continue apace. On Friday [January 17th], 15 houses will be distributed to beneficiaries in Phillips’ Village, Christ Church, Belle Vue and Tabernacle.The ceremony will take place in Phillips’ Village. Other distribution ceremonies are to be held shortly in Sandy Point, St. Peters, and other areas around the Island.
While these fortunate citizens are getting their first opportunity to own their homes in NHC projects, the Team Unity Government is continuing to actively build homes on individual lots.
Only Team Unity believes in delivering bigger and better housing.Only Team Unity has the resources, through strong economic management, to do so. That is why, to date, my administration has assisted well over 3,000 persons with housing solutions. This is a phenomenal achievement. We have accomplished this historic feat through the agencies of the NHC, our HELP, our Roof Repair Programme, our Government Employee Mortgage programme (GEM) and housing initiatives with other strategic partners.
Yes, we have made a start – a very good start – but there is much more we need to do.
This year, we have redeemed another 200 acres of land from Labour’s Land for Debt Swap. This brings to 400 acres the quantity of lands redeemed for ordinary people at a cost of EC $200 million.
My Government will make hundreds of lots available to the ordinary people of Lodge/Ottleys, Cayon, Sandy Point and Lamberts in particular, and to our citizens and residents of our Country in general.
These lands will be used for residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural purposes.
We must never go back to that dark period of free-for-all and fiscal mismanagement that led to the shameless surrender of our land, our patrimony and Country. Should our beloved Federation incur high debt like we had under Labour, all our achievements would be killed stone dead.
Be it at La Vallee Greens or Gatwick – Douglas’ Labour can’t manage money. Their unfunded, uncosted promises would plunge St. Kitts & Nevis back into crippling debt. Labour’s approach is a danger to our economy and a danger to the future of our Country, and we must reject this approach.
- Ms. Sheridane Warner has been designated as the incoming Chief Personnel Officer. She will succeed Mrs. Torfrida Rochester who has applied for retirement. Mrs. Rochester’s calm, competent way of handling matters is her hallmark attribute. I commend Mrs. Rochester’s professionalism and service over the course of her career in the Civil Service. I congratulate Ms. Warner on her promotion to Chief Personnel Officer. Ms. Warner’s temperament, training, experience and progressive outlook should serve her well in her new assignment.
- Mr. Ron Collins will take up the post of Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Post, Urban Development and Transport. I commend Mr. Collins for his service and deliverables in the Ministry of Labour, Ecclesiastical Affairs, Social Security and Nevis Affairs.
- Ms. Sharon Rattan will take up the post of Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour, Ecclesiastical Affairs, Social Security and Nevis Affairs.
- Mrs. Kerry Tuckett has been promoted to Matron at the J. N.F. General Hospital. Mrs. Tuckett brings years of professional experience and superb qualifications that will help to advance quality health care in St. Kitts. I congratulate her and I thank former Matron, Mrs. Sonia Daly-Finley for her long and meritorious service.
New hotels, new investments in housing, new resources for health and education, a real focus on agriculture, unprecedented investment in information technology, and the advent of National Health Insurance which will save our people the worry about the cost of medical treatment, particularly in their old age or when they are unemployed.
Imagine the potential we can unlock in our people, especially our young people, if these gains are locked in. Imagine the future we can give our young people if we keep our economy strong.
Your Team Unity Government commit ourselves to building that stronger and safer future. 2020 should not be the year we go back to the past.
We cannot turn back now.
It is not the time to go back to unfunded promises and high IMF debt again. No, we will not go back there. There is too much at stake to turn back and lose it all now.
Let us instead make 2020 the year St. Kitts and Nevis embraced a stronger and safer future and set our nation permanently heading in the right direction.