Nevis Island Premier – Joseph Parry
December 25, 2008
Fellow citizens at home and abroad, residents, visitors and friends of Nevis, I extend to you heartiest Christmas greetings.
The year seems to have sped away. However we see it, we are thankful to be able to celebrate another Christmas. This is a holy, though festive season. It has become inescapable for everyone whether Christian or non-Christian. It appeals to all of us because it is a time for peace and goodwill toward all. Christmas helps us to rediscover the child in all of us. It tells us that we have hearts and are capable of loving.
We pause to thank the Almighty God for blessing us with a very good year. He has saved us from the ravages of hurricanes and man made disasters, even though we were visited by Hurricane Omar which did major damage to our coastline and the Four Seasons Resort, we are grateful that no lives were lost. Once again in the face of crisis Nevisians came together to assist in the speedy refloating of the Sea Bridge and the Sea Hustler and for that, we all are grateful.
Christmas time is a very difficult time for those who have recently lost loved ones, those whose families and relationships have been broken or separated for any number of reasons, and even within families, those who have lost their jobs and are unable to join in the buying of gifts and food. Many of you, especially those of you living overseas are going through a very difficult period due to loss of jobs and homes. My heart goes out to you and believe me I feel your pain.
Here on Nevis we are still struggling with the matter of the Four Seasons Resort. All indications are that the New Year will be a challenging one for that institution and our people. We will have to practice patience and work with all the stake-holders to have the property functional as soon as we can.
During the past year we saw a spike in the price of fuel and subsequent increases in the price of fish, bus fares and electricity. As I speak to you, I am pleased to report that the price of gas which had been risen to as high as $17.00 per gallon has fallen to below $7.50 per gallon. I am pleased to also report that your December electricity bill will reflect a 50% cut in the fuel surcharge. Additionally, government continues to subsidize the cost of certain basic consumer items through the Supply Office. What this demonstrates is that my government is taking serious steps to reduce and control the cost of living here on Nevis.
During this year we experienced an upsurge in crime and anti-social behaviours. Gang activity claimed the life of some persons. This gang activity will not be allowed to continue. The tragic thing is that much of this gang activity takes place in the schools and when they have conflict between the social groups they call for outside help from other gang members. Parents know who the gang members are, the public knows and the school knows, yet a problem that should have been rooted out already continues to fester. We believe that this cancer can be ripped out, and so, drastic measures that will be implemented and the accountability that will be required from the adults responsible for these youths may not be popular, but it is what is good for the young people and the country in general will be the greater consideration.
We know that a number of young people leave their parent’s homes dressed to reflect the young lifestyle; they have the gang colour scarves in their pockets and are sometimes allowed to attend classes dressed the same way. This must stop! We have to save the young people from themselves. We have to keep our young men alive. We have to prepare them to be the husbands of our young women. If we could only look at the bigger picture! We all need to reach out in various ways. The church, society and everybody must help us help ourselves.
As a start, what about how you’re spending family time this Christmas? This is a good time to talk to your children. Talk to them about Christmases past; about the present economic situation and how they can work with you to decide how limited monies may be spent, how they will care their clothes, how they will retain or adopt a positive spirit expressed in their dress, walk and talk. Re-examine your family relationships. I’m asking parents and guardians and the adults in the community to help us turn things around to give the boys a new self-worth so they may save their lives, that our young women may find boyfriends and husbands worthy of them. We want the young girls to establish boundaries and set values on themselves.
I’m calling on the media to help us tone down the roughness, anger and self-destructiveness expressed through lyrics and some of their talk shows. I’m calling on the churches to speak to the youths in particular about their self work and their destiny. We know that many are destroying themselves and others, even when we are asking them to give their souls to Christ at Christmas.
Let us see if we could get the hymns and scriptures in the young people’s heads. What if this Christmas we all as families discuss the reason for the Christmas Season? Maybe for the first time many would learn that it’s not about the shopping and Santa Claus, but that Jesus came to earth as a baby. The story of this baby born in Bethlehem could change many lives.
On the flip side, we are closing the year with many successes for which the Nevis Island Administration can be proud. As a government of two and a half years we have completed a significant portion of our agenda. We know that the people of Nevis and others know that this government is about improving the lives of our people.
This year our people empowerment took a new upturn. The skills training program saw the graduation of 18 young men from a skills training program in Trinidad even as another batch is waiting to travel to Trinidad on a similar exercise.
The Home Work Assistance Programs continues from its inception in 2006. The improvement in the performance of Primary School children in the test of standard speaks to the success of the program.
We have added two new schools to the school Lunch program. The government’s willingness to assist in paying examination fees and supplying free text books has resulted in better results.
We are to congratulate, Agiel Browne for receiving best results in CAPE examinations and Earline Pemberton of Gingerland High School for receiving best results in CXC examinations in the Federation.
This year marks the 25th year of our Nations Political Independence. In grand style the country celebrated this milestone. We are satisfied that our people at home and abroad felt proud that this federation is now taking its place proudly among the successful nations of the world.
The tourism sector will see an expansion with additional accommodations. Live Nevis will add many needed rooms. Deon Daniel has opened Nelson Springs Villa & Spa two weeks ago. This grand facility is an investor’s envy. Congratulations and thanks to all those who are contributing to the development of our island and people.
I must remind you that on National Heroes Day, 16th September, the new drag strip promised to the young people of Nevis by the Nevis Island Administration was opened and the first races took place in view of over 5000 spectators. The atmosphere of jollification and goodwill and the economic spin off proved that we were right in deciding to take the youth from their clandestine drag racing on the public roads to a safe place built to the best stipulations and providing the economy with an economic benefit that we as a government anticipated.
2009 will be a time of new beginnings. It’s going to be a challenging year and we must have the audacity to keep hope alive. As we draw closer to God we must draw closer to family and focus on giving a hand up instead of giving a hand down. We must never forget where God brought us from. He will continue to make a way.
Let’s begin again. I know that we will weather the economic times and that we can rid this country of the cancer of crime.
Let me on behalf of my wife and family, my government and myself wish all of you a very special and blessed Christmas and I look forward to greeting you in the New Year.
May God bless us all!