NIA CHARLESTOWN (January 01, 2020) -- The following is the full text of the 2020 New Year message by Hon. Mark Brantley, Premier of Nevis.
Fellow citizens at home and abroad, visitors and residents,
Today a new year dawns. As we turn a new chapter in the book of our lives I wish you and your family good health, happiness and prosperity. A new year always comes with a renewed sense of hope, optimism and expectation. Armed with the lessons of 2019, we are ready to focus on the challenges and opportunities that will arise in 2020.
The new year is a special moment in time when individually and collectively we look inward, take stock of ourselves and reflect on our joys and disappointments, our achievements and mistakes. It is also a time when we embrace the opportunity to make greater strides for ourselves, our families and our nation.
Far too often we take for granted the very things for which we should be thankful. As we usher in the new year, we must be thankful to God for sparing us the ravages of any natural disasters during the year that has passed. We should not take for granted the calm, peace and tranquillity that now pervades our island. Let us thank God for answering our individual and collective prayers on the cessation of gun violence in our Federation.
The year 2019 was indeed a year of great accomplishments and achievements for our people. It was a year in which we witnessed an 82 percent and 86 percent pass rate respectively for our students who sat CSEC [Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate] and CAPE [Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination] exams. The Gingerland Secondary School was ranked number two in the Federation in the CSEC exams.
It was a year in which our CARIFTA athletes made us proud in gaining medals at the 2019 CARIFTA [Caribbean Free Trade Association] Games in the Cayman Islands and our Under 17 male cricket team won the Leeward Islands Under 17 Cricket Tournament in Antigua. It was also an exciting year for the Tourism industry. In 2019, we witnessed 64 cruise calls with a total of 14,485 passengers - a 239 percent increase over 2018. Our lovely island’s hotels and restaurants were the recipients of numerous awards and accolades. Our 45th Culturama Festival (C45) was a tremendous success, and by all accounts it was the biggest yet.
The year 2019 was also a memorable year for our island’s infrastructural development. We saw the continuation of the Treasury Building Complex construction and the Alexandra Hospital Rehabilitation Project.
During the summer vacation we undertook extensive rehabilitation on our schools to create an atmosphere which is conducive to learning. We also witnessed the completion of the rehabilitation of the island main road from the Cotton Ground junction to Cliff Dwellers. We saw the transformation of Brown Hill Road and Craddock Road which had not been touched for decades.
The year 2020 promises to be more exciting and productive than the year that has passed. In 2020 we shall witness:
- The start of Phase 2 of the road rehabilitation project from Cliff Dwellers to Camps
- Completion of Phase 2 of the Craddock Road, Bath Road and the Brown Hill Road rehabilitation projects
- The operationalization of the CCTV [Closed-circuit television] Command Centre
- Commencement of construction on the TVET [Technical and Vocational Education and Training] project at both high schools and
- The construction of 62 affordable homes across the island.
In 2019, we encountered many social and economic challenges, chief among which was the temporary closure of the Four Seasons Resort and the closure of Brown Hill Communications. However, by the grace of God, the astute leadership of your government, and the determination of our people, we were able to successfully navigate those treacherous waters and the vessel Nevis continues to sail majestically.
These challenges have taught us that, regardless of the size of our problems, the Nevisian people will not be deterred or defeated. We have always triumphed over adversity. As a proud people, we have never eaten from the plate of helplessness or drank from the cup of self-doubt. At every trying and pivotal moment in our history, we have embraced the spirit of hope - we have always displayed self-reliance, resolve and discipline. In so doing we have always prevailed, and will continue to do so in the future.
Fellow Nevisians, I can assure you that great things are happening on the island of Nevis. There is a genuine sense of hope and optimism as we enter the new year. There is a real feeling of buoyancy and euphoria with the knowledge that, as a people and as an island, we are moving in the right direction.
Every index of material life has recorded significant improvement - job creation, wages and salaries, physical infrastructure and housing, health care and education, culture and sports are all trending upwards.
Clearly, Nevis is changing for the better and we are promoting the good life for all. With our social programmes we are reducing divisions and encouraging social cohesion. We are pursuing an economic agenda geared towards building a country of which everyone can be proud.
With our good governance agenda, we are improving our political culture, promoting inclusiveness and discarding the toxic politics of the past. Brick by brick we are creating a better Nevis with a greater opportunity for all to pursue and live their dreams.
I pledge today that in the year ahead:
- We shall continue to improve upon all of the gains that we have made over the years
- We shall continue to provide greater social protection for our people, especially our children, our elderly and women.
- We shall continue to offer scholarships and assistance for our youth to develop and qualify themselves
- We shall continue to offer skills training and seed financing for our youth and our women to convert their ideas and energies into economic enterprises
- As a caring and people-centred government, we shall continue to improve upon our education system and health care, and provide affordable housing for all.
Indeed, life is getting better for all, something good is happening and we have lots of reasons to feel good and to be proud of our island.
We find ourselves today living in a technological era where social media is the order of the day. Such technology has created new opportunities for us to communicate in ways unheard of years ago. However, in recent times this platform has been weaponized by some, and has been used by many to exploit and hijack our constitutional right to free speech.
In the year ahead, I urge us all to raise the level of our national discourse. I implore us to season our comments with kindness, respect and love. Let us value each other and let us commit ourselves to being our brothers’ keeper.
Let us pledge to solve our issues and misunderstandings in a social and political environment characterized by empathy and tolerance. Let us bring happiness to those whom we encounter; let us say warm words to all those we treasure; let us thank our parents, give a tender hug and kiss to our children and open our hearts to all. May we bring joy and harmony in every home and peace and love to every family.
At this juncture, permit me to wish our young people every success in the year ahead and may all of their positive endeavours bear fruit. To our seniors, to whom we owe so much, I express eternal gratitude to you for the foundation you have laid for our island’s progress and development. I also express to you good health and serenity in the twilight of your years. To all those who by their actions and works have contributed to the sustainable development of our country, we say thank you. We are indeed indebted to you.
Fellow citizens, I pray that all of your hopes, dreams and aspirations may materialize in the new year. I sincerely hope that 2020 will prove to be a peaceful, productive and prosperous year for all of us. On behalf of the Nevis Island Administration I wish you and your family a Happy New Year and may Jehovah continue to guide and bless our island and nation.
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