Basseterre, St. Kitts – IN his Christmas Message to nationals and residents of St. Kitts and Nevis, Prime Minister Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris called on everyone to “commit ourselves to finding the Lord’s peace in our own lives”.
For this festive season, the PM urged the nation to reflect on what joys could be achieved when they welcome into their lives the peace that the birth of Jesus Christ brought to the world.
He noted that as people go about their busy lives, they are often distracted, caught up in events and their daily tasks, but Christmas allows them to take a step back and find peace with their friends, families and within themselves.
“For when we are at peace with ourselves and with each other, we become more aware of the community around us. We are more attuned to the relationships we have, and we free ourselves to actively pursue our hopes and dreams for a better life,” he added.
Indeed, our lives have been shaped by the dreams and aspirations that our forebears had for our future and those we have for ourselves.
Dr. Harris also noted that Christmas is an ideal time to reflect on the importance of having a strong and peaceful family life and “passing along the benefit of our experience and wisdom to those who will carry on our legacy and our good name”.
“This Christmas,” he said, “let’s examine our lives and our choices to determine if they are in sync with the future we want for our nation’s children.”
Dr. Harris asked the following question: “Are we teaching them and demonstrating through our words and actions the values and standards of behaviour that ensure the stability and posterity of the family and society?”
He stated that those values include caring, citizenship, discipline, faith, family, honesty, industry, responsibility and service, which are of importance.
Dr. Harris also asked if the children are being prepared to carry out their life’s mission.
Making reference to the nativity story, Dr. Harris said it teaches people that a child’s future success begins with a simple dream and that “our positive influence and involvement in that child’s life can make the difference between success and failure in fulfilling the dream”.
Using an excerpt from Langston Hughes’ poem (Dreams), he advised that the nation should hold fast to dreams, because if dreams die life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.
“This is why my Team Unity administration is committed to implementing policies designed to give young people and families opportunities to take flight and rise above their circumstances,” he added.
The Prime Minister reminded the nation of some of the policies his Administration had implemented to provide opportunities for the younger generation.
Among them, he said, were the Housing Programme; Small Business Development initiatives, which include the Fresh Start Programme and the Small Business Development Centre that is being managed by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.
“It is not by chance that data provided by the Ministry of Finance indicate that over 600 applications were approved for business licenses as at the end of October 2019. This is the largest number of approvals ever for a single year!
“Our supportive policies cut across several ministries, and their demonstrable successes were highlighted during the presentation of our 2020 Budget titled ‘Let’s Keep Building a Stronger and Safer Future for St. Kitts and Nevis’”, he said.
Dr. Harris also spoke to his Administration’s Poverty Alleviation Programme, which he said is strengthening the financial position of over 4,000 households. “They received a total payout of about $22 million for the first 11 months of 2019.”
He further spoke to the payout of an extra month’s salary to civil servants and employees of public entities in the Federation, noting that his Administration has been doing so since getting into Office in 2015.
Reiterating the importance of dreams and how they could be adversely affected, Dr. Harris said: “For far too long too many of our young men’s dreams had been deferred as a result of juvenile delinquency, gang activity and underemployment, and too many lives had also been cut short by gun violence. The senseless killings happened too frequently and for too long in the absence of a well thought out, holistic plan to contain and curb it.”
In relation to major crimes, he declared that so far for this year, there has been a significant reduction when compared to the comparative period in 2018. And that “homicides have fallen most dramatically by 48 percent.
Touching on at-risk young men in the Federation, Dr. Harris informed that many of them have developed their ideas into viable business plans and were in receipt of seed-funding for projects that run the gamut from agriculture to landscaping, nature tours, car rentals and other legitimate entrepreneurial activities.
“Helping at-risk youth is high on our list of priorities, and our efforts have helped us to build safer streets and communities,” he stressed.
The Prime Minister noted that the Peace Initiative implemented earlier this year has borne fruits.
“What’s more, these once marginalised men and their families have found God’s peace in their hearts and minds. The peace initiative gave them a sense of hope that they too can dream about building a brighter future.”
Dr. Harris said the nation has a lot to be thankful for, as the Federation’s economic drivers - tourism, construction, the CBI Programme and manufacturing - are all doing relatively well.
“Our fiscal house is the best in the region,” he exclaimed.
In concluding his Christmas Message Dr. Harris said: “As Prime Minister of our beloved Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, I wish you and your loved ones a joyous and peaceful Christmas and Carnival season. May it be everything you’ve dreamed of and even more.”