Forging Ahead

The pulse of the people, particularly those residing at home, was a telltale sign that the near twenty-year-old tenure of the Dr. Denzil Douglas led St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party had become woefully despised. Poll after poll indicated the nation was ready for change.

The much talked about change is now a reality and the work of nation building continues, albeit under new leadership.

The way forward for the Team Unity government, and ultimately the nation of St. Kitts and Nevis, is etched in the core belief that good governance MUST be at the heart of the collaborative tripartite alliance.

A myriad of challenges plague this Team Unity government, which has heavily campaigned on forging ahead with a new dispensation in a collective undertaking.  Twenty years of a mentality of entitlement, control, and “anything goes” style of governance doesn’t erode in one day. Those who have supported Team Unity and even those opposed to the alliance must get that to implement a shift away from the ills of the past in every facet of government, proposals on paper require time and the support of citizens to implement.

In his first public address to the nation as prime minister on Wednesday, March 25, 2015, Dr. The Honourable Timothy S. Harris highlighted his government’s commitment to bringing relief to the people of the federation.

As part of the Team Unity government’s commitment to alleviate some of the economic woes brought on by the imposition of the highest introductory rate of 17% Value Added Tax in the Caribbean, Dr. Harris unveiled the government’s new tax policy.

Beginning April 7, 2015, VAT will be completely removed from ALL food, medicine, funeral expenses and educational supplies. This initiative is deemed to be a fundamental step in creating long-term stimulation of the economy.

It is worthy of mention that this economic policy is not for the benefit of some citizens but rather for the benefit of ALL citizens of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis.

One aspect of the commitment to moving forward rests heavily with the government’s policy on fighting crime. Violent crime and homicides have permeated our communities and the shores of our island paradise have been too long threatened.

For years, our leaders have touted their commitment to fighting this despicable social animal. The changing of the guard in 2011, which was deemed to be the answer to the ills plaguing the nation, still did not stem the many violent homicides that have become far too common.

Over the last 20 years, our nation has recorded over 200 murders of mostly young men. Our once alarmist and enraged response to crime and the indiscriminate murder of our young people has morphed into nonchalant and dismissive attitudes.

Some blame the downward spiral in crime on youth unrest, gang warfare and economic hardship. Others contend that thousands of citizens, generations ago, also experienced abject poverty far worse than some impoverished families today yet never resorted to the type of violent modern day crimes prevalent in our societies. It is clear we are living in a different era requiring a shift away from archaic crime solving techniques.

The federation recorded one murder in 1990, then 10 murders in 2003 and an unprecedented record high of 35 murders in 2011. Alarming numbers for a small twin island state of our size. Sadly, we exist in a culture where some of our people frown on hard work yet prey on the hard work and tangible accomplishments of others. The old adage of being each other’s keeper has somehow not resonated with some of our young people!

Still, clearer policies that can breed success to rein in our young boys must form part of the social reform agenda of this new government with a view ultimately to stem the new breed of crime that has somehow found a haven in our neighborhoods.

Interestingly, the canvassing conducted by our politicians and their surrogates during the recently concluded general elections should have revealed some of the extremely difficult circumstances many families are enduring. This government is charged with the gargantuan task of solving a twenty-year-old plague of festering social issues that have helped to exacerbate crime. Solving crime and restoring our communities is closely hinged on being in tune with the electorate long before Election Day.

For every young man murdered in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, there is a family of victims suffering. While some families have solid support systems and over time find relief from their loss, there are many mothers and fathers whose pain has never eased.

In his recent address to the nation, Prime Minister Harris articulated his government’s commitment to “fighting all crimes so that St. Kitts and Nevis can once again be rated amongst the safest countries in the world.” That is the new St. Kitts and Nevis that we can envision, and we as a people must forge ahead collectively with great anticipation that we can transform our nation.

There is a Tibetan saying that “tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength. No matter what sort of difficulties or how painful the experience is, if we lose our hope, that’s our real disaster.”

Amidst new leadership and fresh ideas, Team Unity’s tenure comes with great expectations for resolve, reform and reconciliation. This is a unique opportunity in our federation’s history to truly forge ahead.

 

 

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