As Representative for the great parish of St. Thomas’, as Premier of Nevis, and also as Minister responsible for Finance, I get to wear several hats…but I want no one to be in doubt this afternoon, that the hat I wear today is that of leader of the Nevis Reformation Party….that of Captain of a ship going into battle.
At stake in this forthcoming election is not only the success of the NRP…at stake is the future of Nevis! The social and economic infrastructure that we have so painstakingly built over the years is under serious threat this evening. It is under threat because we have a group of modern day, two-eyed pirates lurking in the bush; they are seeking to pounce on the asset called Nevis and extract for themselves and their friends, all that you have worked over the years to acquire.
I hear one individual has said how he has $3 million, of his own money, to spend on winning this election. I ask myself, ‘why would a person spend $3 million to secure a $100 000 a year job? Something is not right about that mathematics and mightily suspicious about the logic. The only way you put $3 million into any investment, is if you expect and plan to get a greater return on what you have put out. That is why I say this evening that the people of Nevis have got to secure and grudgingly guard the assets of this country.
I have been involved in the politics of Nevis for 26 years, and I have never seen or sensed such desperation; such a mad grab for power. These people have turned the business of politics into a blood sport; where they would stop at nothing to secure the result they wish.
How do you explain in the year of our Lord 2012 a wannabe leader dragging the very people he wishes to lead through the law courts on trumped up charges of voter fraud? Here is a classic case of the kettle calling the pot black! They were found guilty not so long ago of manufacturing voters from nowhere….yet, they have the gall to now want to haul decent citizens of this country before the law courts simply to intimidate and humiliate them.
Well I want to tell those targeted citizens something this evening….the NRP will not stand for injustice or advantage being taken against innocent, ordinary citizens of this country. This party will do whatsoever it has to do to ensure that you receive the best possible legal advice and representation. Your names may be on the charge sheets but this is gonna be a battle between Mark Brantley and Joseph Walcott Parry, as Leader of the Nevis Reformation Party!! I am sworn to promote and protect the interest of all Nevisians and I am not going to sit idle and allow Mark Brantley or anyone in that rogue party to take advantage of anybody in this country, be they black or white, man or woman, Jew or Gentile, CCM supporter or NRP well wisher.
If you touch them, consider yourself as touching Joseph Parry and the entire family of the Nevis Reformation Party!!
Now Brothers and Sisters, we have chosen as a theme for this Conference – ‘NRP…Best for Nevis’. That was not arrived at without considerable thought and analysis. Nevis is tonight at a crucial juncture in its development. The future is bright, but there are pirates laying in wait. We must therefore be vigilant and take nothing for granted.
This island is in the throes of the worst economic recession known to modern man. Those of you who have been following the United States Presidential election would see the difficulty both candidates are having coming up with an air tight solution to the economic challenges confronting that country.
Elsewhere in Europe there are faltering economies, with the Euro under constant threat and even in Asia and the Far East, economies such as Singapore, Qatar and Dubai are now displaying vulnerabilities; with Singapore in particular reporting its first negative growth in many, many years.
Closer to home, in the Caribbean there is not a single economy that we can point to as a beacon of success. Each is wobbling to varying degrees and populations around the region are reeling under the pressure of rising unemployment and cost of living, coupled with a reduction in social services, such as health, care of the elderly and the plight of those living below the poverty line. So these are very serious times in which we are forced to return to the people of Nevis for a fresh mandate.
Through hard work and indomitable spirit we have been able to weather many a storm…and I pause here, Ladies and Gentlemen to single out my team of hard working Ministers for their yeoman service to this Nevis Island Administration over the past six years. A lot of people under-value the hard work of Ministers but I am saying when you look around Nevis today, this team that I have the honour to lead is second to none in the history of Cabinet Government in Nevis.
I also wish to thank the hard working and conscientious public officers, who have borne many a sacrifice and who continue to put country before self in the execution of their duties. Times may be hard, but we in the Nevis Island Administration have been able to do much with little as a result of the support and cooperation we have received from public officers at all levels.
I want to thank as well this evening, you, the warriors of the NRP. It is the base of this Party who provided the energy and the motivation for us to carry on, even when we are victims of unfair and vicious abuse. It is you, who in the villages and workplaces, on the radio call in shows and the worldwide web defend the honour and good name of this Party in Government. My dear friends, we could not have made it this far without you; without your prayers, without your expression of support and solidarity and without your taking the fight to our detractors.
So here we are this evening, just 15 months into our second term of office, returning to you for a fresh mandate. I do not wish to go into detail this evening about how this came about…you all know the story. But suffice to say, we are law makers and not law breakers….if the courts of this country say a fresh election is to take place, then a fresh election will take place.
I wish to make one thing clear this afternoon…the decision of what type of election will come about is that of His Excellency the Governor General, acting on the advice of the Premier. I have sought legal advice on this matter from near and from far…and it is the considered view of the legal fraternity around the region that we are within our right to determine the nature of elections that shall be called in Nevis and I am saying this evening that General Elections will be held in Nevis within the constitutionally stipulated time frame for such to be called.
We are returning to the people of Nevis with a proud record of achievement. Following upon our successes of the first four years in office, we set about in our second term to consolidate the gains that had been made.
From Day one of this second term we recognised that the opposition had one intention. To obstruct our efforts to move Nevis forward, to paralyse and bring this Government and Nevis to its knees.
You would recall, Brothers and Sisters, that when we assumed office in 2006, Nevis was in a state of paralysis. Nothing progressive or productive was happening. You had a Premier who spent his time racking up frequent flyer miles around the globe and a rudderless Cabinet whose members spent their time attending to the interest of family and friends, rather than vigorously confronting the challenges that beset this country.
We have worked tirelessly over the past six years to restore hope, pride and confidence in Nevis and things Nevisian. We have attended to the needs of Nevisian residents at home and those domiciled elsewhere. We placed Nevis back on the global map in a positive way…that’s why we say this evening that we, the Nevis Reformation Party, is best for Nevis.
The other side is fighting among itself to determine who is leader and who is not. We do not have those issues in the NRP. There is one, undisputed leader of the NRP and that person is Joseph Parry. When we win this next election, Joseph Walcott Parry will be reinstalled as the Premier of Nevis. Can you say this evening with certainty who would lead a CCM administration? Do you think someone is putting up $3 million to become a Deputy? Do you think someone is going to give up leadership of their Party simply because someone else wants it more than them? That sort of instability is the last thing that Nevis wants at this time, and that’s why, once again, we insist that for stability at the helm of Government in these troubling times, NRP is best for Nevis.
This great Party of ours has articulated a clear economic plan for reforming the economy of Nevis. We have demonstrated our strength and willingness to take hard and not always popular decision in the national interest. We have forged closer working relations with the Federal Government. We have ensured that every young Nevisian has an opportunity to educate and train himself to be an active partner in our quest to take Nevis forward.
With respect to our fiscal and economic policies, these have been two tough years; there’s no getting away from it. We were confronted by the situation where Four Seasons was closed and when it opened the impact of the recession substantially reduced the occupancy rate to such a point that the streams of income which normally flowed to the Treasury, to businesses to farmers were far from satisfactory. Secondly, we were and still are under the IMF regime. We are obligated to reduce expenditure on public investment in roads and other infrastructural projects. Consequently, that part of Government’s economic activity that generally leads to the expansion of employment was severely limited.
We all realized it. The opposition saw it and gloated.
Yet, through creative thought and wide consultation with the social partners, we were able to stabilize the economy. We generated jobs through the Housing Corporation. Today, Cherry Gardens stands as a visible testimony of the ingenuity of Hon Robelto Hector and the Nevis Reformation Party. Over 200 jobs were created in the Construction Industry.
Even as Four Seasons steadied itself, the Brown Hill Communications Centre continued to provide increased employment opportunities. This is the same Brown Hill Communications that the opposition indicted and did everything to prevent its success. We were taken to Court, the opposition Lawyer succeeded in delaying this Project for 60 days in support of a company, which employed 5 persons,
which still owes Nevis millions of dollars given to them by the CCM.
Today, we point with pride at the Brown Hill Communications. 230 Nevisians employed there and counting.
Look around you. Nearly every young man and woman is working. Look at our Caribbean brothers and sisters and you must conclude we have done a great work, a tremendous job in keeping this economy on the right track.
That is why when it comes to the economic outlook and well being of Nevis, we say boldly that the NRP is best for Nevis!
Socially, we have a perspective that places the plight of ordinary Nevisians at the centre of our undertakings. In the last two years over 100 beautiful homes have been established in Cherry Gardens. New homes have been constructed at Hamilton, Jessups, Cotton Ground and Newcastle.
Community Centres were built in Combermere, Fountain, Cotton Ground, Jessups and Barnes Ghaut and, for the first time on Nevis, serious Programmes for seniors and young people are taking place in these villages.
Seniors have exercise classes. They are playing pan. For the first time returning nationals are fully enjoying themselves back in their native land and are singing loudly the praises of the NRP Government.
Currently, in this regard Hensley Daniel is driving the construction of a Urology Centre. It will be ready for operation before the end of the year, therefore, those 400 men who last year sought testing of their prostate can feel safe and happy with the NRP and Hensley for taking care of their health needs.
So Brothers and Sisters, irrespective of whichever yardstick you use, we contend that the NRP is best for Nevis at this time!!
Now is not the time to go shooting in the dark. When it comes to the future of this country you cannot spin a toss and hope for heads or tails…Nevis is not a lucky dip! This is a clear, common-sense decision that has got to be made.
The other side is yet to advance a clear, credible approach to tackling far less resolving the challenges confronting us. Their obsession is with power! Securing power, exploiting power and ultimately, abusing power.
They would want you believe that they have a plan for this country but we know better. Like Sanballat of the Old Testament they find fault with every Project with every effort this Government makes to economically develop this country. We build the island main road. The culverts are too small. We remove dangerous corners. We are destroying the history of the island. We bring Brown Hill Communications with 240 persons employed. We should have kept Clear Harbour with 5 employees and a mountain of debt still unpaid in this country.
Sanballat, that mischievous biblical character was a schemer, a mischief maker, but was hopelessly inept at constructive thought. We do not need another Sanballat on Nevis.
Let me illustrate to you what I mean. Just a week ago our local Sanballat using characteristically standard English, for the first time unfolded his great plan for Nevis. A Dog Farm. Nothing is wrong with a Dog Farm by itself. But where will he sell the Pitbulls and Doberman dogs? How many on Nevis, how many to Antigua, Barbados? All over the Caribbean dog breeders cannot get their puppies sold. Who will run the Farm? The graduates of the Sixth and Fifth forms who Vance Amory claimed are unemployed. It took a genius like Sanballat to unfold to the people of Nevis his solution to the unemployment problem.
And his latter-day Lieutenant, after 14 years in office and fourteen promises, 14 broken promises of 14 hotels he now says he will provide a hotel – a Five Star, a Four Star, a good quality hotel – another among the pie in the sky projects of CCM.
So we know better! You would recall how they on the eve of election of 2006 went to Old Manor to announce the New Found development. New Found cannot be found up to this moment and CCM is still confused.
What of the Ritz Carlton and the Marriott?
That is why we say this evening you cannot go there. You have to guard against false promises. They have no plans, but many promises. Promises of the same job to 5 persons, promises of a hotel after failing for 14 years to bring one hotel to Nevis, promises of change only for us to witness the victimization of our people. So that is why we say, NRP is best for Nevis.
Brothers and Sisters, We are joined today by scores of overseas based Nevisians who continue to display an interest in things Nevisian. They each want to ensure that they and their offspring will always have a place to call “home”; a place that they can be proud of; a place that they can proudly market and sell the world over.
We appreciate the contributions that overseas based Nevisians continue to make to the social and economic well-being of this island. When my Ministers and I travel abroad we take time out to listen and internalize the concerns, ideas and aspirations of Nevisians abroad. Our every policy statement reflects an acknowledgement of their existence and importance to the social and economic fabric of this society, that is why we have to date, in this term offered land at a reduced rate for first time buyers. That is why the Land and Housing Corporation has engaged and included them in its Housing Development Programme and that is why we have ensured that returning nationals have become such a vibrant part of our development and social programmes right here on Nevis.
So we salute our non-resident Nevisians this evening. Wherever you are in the Diaspora, following this event on the worldwide web, we want you to know that when we speak of Nevis and Nevisians, you are factored into that equation. We welcome hearing from you and we especially welcome seeing you here in Nevis; appreciating all the good that this Nevis Reformation Party has done.
So Brothers and Sisters, make no bones about it…we are gearing for General Elections on this island!!
I believe that in these 18 months, the Nevis Reformation Party has demonstrated its willingness, resolve and capacity to get the job done.
Our Ministers are fit and raring to go. They each has a clear concept of what is required to steer the social and economic ship of state clear of economic icebergs and back to full proficiency.
Brothers and Sisters, the world is navigating itself out of this awful recession. This is not a job for boy toys or toy boys. This is not a job for Premiers who cannot stay on the ground in Nevis long enough to steer the ship. A little travelling is essential, but not every fortnight for seemingly unending periods of time!
This is not a job for Premiers who are caught up more in self than in State. We do not need any “pre-madonnas” at the helm at this time. The Premiership of Nevis must be more than a stepping stone to the Prime Minister ship of the Federation. Nevis needs a leader who wants to lead Nevis and is contented leading Nevis!
We need a team of Ministers who will buckle down and get the job done. There is no better candidate for Minister of Health at this time in Nevis than Hensley Daniel. There is no person better suited to head up the Ministry of Public Works than Robelto Hector.
Brothers and Sisters, we need a Premier who has a clear vision of where he wants to lead this island and the discipline and ethic to diligently work at achieving such goals.
That is why we say this evening, without fear of contradiction, that the best Party in Nevis to lead Nevis at this particular time, is the Nevis Reformation Party.
Members and supporters of the Nevis Reformation Party,I want you to put on the breastplate of armour. I want you to be willing to take your vacations, give up your weekends, fore go the television and soap operas and ready yourself for battle!
The opponents of progress in this country will be throwing money left, right and centre. I am not worried!! I have confidence in my people!
Nevisians cannot and will not be bought. $3 million will not buy any election in Nevis and it certainly will not buy anybody a seat in the Legislative Assembly.
We are not yielding an inch in this election. At stake is not only the survival of the Government of the NRP…at stake is the future of Nevis.
We cannot change course midstream. We cannot and must not tinker with the future of this island at this delicate stage.
Stay with what you have and who you know! Mighty Sparrow said it clearly – Love the one who loves you!
Stay with the candidates of the Nevis Reformation Party and let us, together, take this beautiful island forward.
God Bless each and everyone of you!
God Bless the Nevis Reformation Party!
God Bless the beautiful island of Nevis.
I thank you.