My fellow citizens and residents, over the last five short years, your Team Unity Government has been working on building a stronger and safer future for St. Kitts and Nevis – a future of more homes, new jobs, safer streets and real opportunities for our young people.
COVID-19 poses the greatest threat to that future.
Working with you, your Team Unity Government has been protecting our people, our economy and our islands from the worst elements of this pandemic.
We are making good progress, but there is so much more to be done in these difficult and uncertain times. We must now work harder to keep our Federation on the path to a stronger and safer future.
And we MUST do this together, with your support and, of course, with your mandate.
Elections are required at this time, even in a time of a State of Emergency. There are Emergency Regulations, which we are advised are reasonably justified in a democratic society and in the context of the corona pandemic. The experts have advised that COVID-19 will continue for an indefinite period.
In some respects, this election will be different, because of the rules in place to combat the virus.
We will continue to rely on our Health Experts to guide us in the way in which we can carry out our constitutional obligation to hold free and fair elections while keeping our people safe.
For example, our health professionals have advised repeatedly that the nightly curfew and weekend lockdown remain in place to reduce the incidence of large social gatherings that are fertile ground for the transmission of the virus.
As candidates and political parties campaign and bring their views to voters, therefore, some traditional means of communicating will inevitably have to be modified. Virtual public meetings will be one new and innovative way in which candidates will bring their messages to their supporters.
The Supervisor of Elections will no doubt have more to say about the safety measures that will be in place for the general elections after consultations with our medical experts and other professionals.
Now that we are in an election season, you face a clear choice.
You can move forward with Team Unity to a stronger and safer future.
Our Federation is and always will be safer with Team Unity.
Our record has shown that when faced with adversity we have responded well.
When we were struck by the hurricanes, we rebuilt homes and repaired roofs and made over 2,000 families safer and better.
In response to the global pandemic, our early proactive actions – which restricted travel, enforced quarantine and closed our borders – have undoubtedly saved lives. These actions have kept us safe. You only have to look at the United Kingdom or the United States of America to see how bad things could have been without careful management.
Because of the tough decisions we took, St. Kitts and Nevis is best placed in the Caribbean to recover.
At this time, we have had no deaths, no one hospitalized, and 14 out of 15 positive cases have nicely recovered.
Together, we have accomplished much throughout our first term.
The introduction of the Poverty Alleviation Programme has made a real difference to those on lower incomes – providing crucial assistance to them.
We have delivered over 3,000 housing solutions and we will not stop there, I can assure you.
Our homes are also bigger and better than before.
We also undertook the most significant public sector investment in our Country’s history.
This includes the construction of the 2nd cruise pier; the $69 million resurfacing of the island main road, and the reconstruction of the Old Road Bay to alleviate the longstanding dangers that were posed to travellers – just to name a few projects.
We built the modern Ferry Terminal, the East and West Bus Line Terminals and we installed traffic lights as part of our plan to revitalize Basseterre.
We have also invested significantly in our healthcare system – not just in response to COVID-19, for which we are now well prepared, but for our long-term future.
I am especially proud that we were able to establish – for the first time under a Team Unity Government – a Cancer Treatment Unit at the J. N. F. Hospital and our mental health facility. We reconstructed the Mary Charles Hospital and expanded the services available there and built a modern health facility at Tabernacle.
And, in response to the Coronavirus, we have delivered the most comprehensive stimulus package in the region. This, of course, is not by accident. It is the result of prudent fiscal management and our deliberate decision to pay off the $117m IMF debt left behind by our predecessors.
We are supporting our people when the times are tough, and our people certainly appreciate our support.
We have accomplished all of these and more in five short years.
We are living, of course, in unprecedented times, which none of us has ever experienced before.
My Government is committed to keeping all our people safe.
The health of our nation is, and will remain, our number one priority.
Despite the threat posed by COVID-19, we must continue to work hard to keep our Federation on the path to a stronger and safer future.
I promise you, we have a plan for our second term to deliver that stronger and safer future.
This plan has a greater role for agriculture in the context of food security.
Our plan is about being at the cutting edge of ICT.
It is about empowering our young people through quality education and training.
That is why we have procured nearly 2,000 ICT devices for our students and teachers to facilitate e-learning.
Our plan includes getting our tourism back on the incredible growth trajectory in cruise and stay-over visitors experienced only under a Team Unity Government.
Our plan involves the continuing development of our infrastructure.
All of which will help to create new jobs and to provide opportunities for our young people.
Our plan involves building even more homes, just as we have done in our first term.
We are opening up even more land, now we have freed it up from those who sold it out from under our feet to pay debts.
Our plan will also ensure we do not see a return to lawlessness, crime and violence on the streets.
Together, with your support, we can put this plan into action, just as we have done in these five short years.
Together we can secure a stronger, safer future for our beloved people and Federation.
RESOLVE AND CALL TO ACTION
It has been a real honour for me to serve as your Prime Minister in this Team Unity Government.
I can assure you that my determination and resolve to deliver for our Federation have only grown with each passing day that I have held this high office.
I am confident that you will grant me the opportunity to keep serving you, the people of St. Kitts and Nevis, and to take our Federation to that stronger and safer future.
Now is not the time to put what we have at risk.
Now is the time for us to push ahead to a brighter and safer future.
We believe that this election is a matter of trust – and we in Team Unity believe that we have earned your trust. As one of our esteemed journalists has written recently, “….nothing can win an electorate’s trust more than a government that makes its citizens feel safe. Team Unity has achieved this with flying colours.” Homicides are now at an all-time low. For the first four (4) months of the year they have fallen by 60 percent relative to last year, and overall major crimes on a whole are down by 44 percent.
Yes, a safer and brighter future is possible with Team Unity, and with your mandate we will deliver on this commitment for a stronger and safer future.
For that reason, I have asked the Governor General for an election to be called. Election is important and it will bring certainty to our Federation, it will enhance confidence in our Country and, in my view, preserve our democracy.
His Excellency has advised me that today, Monday, 18th May, 2020, he will appoint Returning Officers in all eleven (11) constituencies in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis pursuant to the National Assembly Elections Act.
His Excellency has further advised that Writs of Election will be issued for the Election of Members to serve in the National Assembly. The date for Nomination of Candidates will be Wednesday, 27th May 2020, and those of you who are registered will vote for the candidate of your choice on Election Day, which is Friday, 5th June 2020.
Let’s stay together, my good people; let’s see this through.
Vote Team Unity for a stronger and safer future.
Let the bells ring across the Federation, and may our land of beauty always be a land of peace and prosperity.
I thank you.