Fellow citizens and residents, As we leave behind yet another trying year, and as we step cautiously into a new one, no doubt, many of us are contemplating what challenges are in store for us this year.
I am grateful and I know we all are to stand on the brink of a new year with new opportunities to make the necessary changes in life. All the failures and disappointments of 2010 are firmly and permanently in the past and 2011 is pregnant with second chances. I encourage all of us to grasp those second chances with both hands.
Evidently, for most of us Kittitians and Nevisians, the anxiety which traditionally greets the dawning of a New Year has been tempered by the prevailing economic challenges which face the poor and not so poor in particular. Notwithstanding the mounting difficulties that the average Kittitian and Nevisian family is enduring, on this the start of a new year, every New Year marks an opportunity to see things from a different perspective.
We expect that the cost of living will rise significantly as we have to pay more for electricity. We will face the full extent of the VAT. We will be taking home less money in our wages and salaries.
Yet even as those of us who have jobs wonder how we will stretch our reduced salaries to cover the full cost of all our bills we know that we are among the more fortunate. Many of our fellow citizens have no job or are facing the prospect of losing their jobs before this New Year is through. If all this were not enough, we face the devastating knowledge that our beloved country sits on the doorstep of the IMF and no good ever comes of such a situation.
This New Year will test all the bonds of community spirit that we developed over the years. Many of us will experience the truth that a good neighbour is our closest relative as we have to depend on each other to survive the difficulties that lie ahead.
What can we do and what will we do now to ensure that our country comes through this difficulty intact and ensure that the situation actually improves rather than gets worse? The simple fact is that no citizen who claims to love this country can sit by any longer and be a spectator as it slides ever closer to the abyss. This is the time for serious and constructive action.
As a people we could choose to expend valuable time and energy looking back at the last 15 years of this governments mismanagement and waste and apportioning blame. That, however, will achieve very little in terms of advancing our development. So then, let us seize this new day, in this new month, in this New Year, to make it our resolve to recommit ourselves in the interest of our country for a renewed effort for national development.
As we start this year, let us begin by taking responsibility, as individuals, as families and as a nation, for those things which are within our control.
First and foremost, let us determine that we will not lose hope, because desperation and surrender are completely uncharacteristic of our people .We are not unaccustomed to challenges, but we rise to every occasion and we ALWAYS overcome.
And though we might have to struggle through this year largely because of uncaring, corrupt and inept leaders, in the end, we will triumph. Within us reside the indomitable survival instincts of our ancestors who survived the horrors of the plantations. Within us lies the invincible fighting spirit of heroes and heroines, named and unnamed, who, despite apparently impossible odds, stood up to be counted for freedom, equal rights and social justice. We owe it to their memories, to ourselves and our children, NEVER to lose HOPE and NEVER to surrender in the face of the challenges of our time. We too must stand up and be counted for equal rights, equal opportunities, brotherhood, fairness and justice. The only path that we can take at this time is to insist on STRONG,STEADFAST and TRUSTWORTHY leadership.
A leadership that is inclusive, considerate and compassionate. Let us recognize that there is but ONE FEDERATION of St.Kitts and Nevis and that wherever we travel, wherever we go, this country is our homeland. Whatever our gender, class, race, religion, political persuasion or social or economic status our motto asks of us to always put country above self.
No man is an island, No man stands alone.
Every Kittiitian and Nevisian must be able to come to the table and to share in the national meal on equal terms no matter what their political persuasion.
Yes, this is an era of uncertainty – where more people are losing their jobs, where crime has gotten out of hand and where we linger on the edge of a certain darkness.
But this is also an era of opportunity.
Our generation has this special opportunity to say that our yesterdays don’t have to shape our tomorrows.
What we must do is learn from yesterday, so that we must work collectively to develop an economic system that provides a greater security for the weakest among us.
We must work to find more training and job opportunities for our young people.
We must work to ensure that our people are safer in their homes and on our streets.
We must take out a new contract with our people – a contract that won’t be broken on the altar of petty political spite.
Let us therefore resolve, that despite the political differences and the inept and corrupt leadership of our country, we WILL be ONE FAMILY. We must strive to elevate above the forces that seek to divide us and let us unite to axe our anxieties, tackle our troubles, and translate our tribulations into triumph.
As a people, we understand decency in government, we are strong and resilient, we have a special spirit of loyalty to our country, we understand right from wrong.
Enjoy what is left of the holidays, with the clear understanding that when the party is over, we have an economy to build and a country to save.
God has gotten us this far, and he won’t let us down now.
Your prayers would be answered and your faith will see us through.
The New Year proves that hope springs eternal. Almighty God has not left us helpless and hopeless. We have been given another chance to choose to change our course for the better. Lets us set about this important work without delay.
I wish all my fellow Kittitians and Nevisians at home and abroad and all residents of these beloved islands a very Happy New Year. May God continue to keep us and guide us.