Premier of Nevis – Joseph Parry
December 25, 2009
It’s Christmas time again and I greet all the citizens and residents of Nevis and all our families, friends and well-wishers abroad at this Christmas time, and wish you a very merry blessed and peaceful Christmas season.
The year has slipped by. It seems like it was just a short while ago that I wished you a happy Christmas.
I trust that during this season of peace and goodwill we all will pause to give thanks to the Almighty God who has brought us through this year which has been challenging in many respects, because of the world economic crisis and even more so because of the closure of the Four Seasons Resort and the resulting lay-off of six (600) hundred workers.
Let us however never forget to be grateful that this year. We were spared the wrath of any hurricanes or man-made disasters.
I wish at this time to welcome all returning nationals. Many of you have not been home for a long time. I trust that you will have a great time of fellowship with your family and friends and that you take time to move around the island and see the new developments that are transforming the island for the better.
I am aware that for many, Christmas time is a difficult time. You may have lost relatives or friends during the year and you miss them terribly. Your Christmas will not be the same this year. Some of you have had relationships broken through separation and a number of other reasons. I share the pain of those who have lost your jobs and are finding it difficult at this time.
I trust that we not only reach out in prayer but in the sharing of what we have been blessed with, a phone call or a visit as the case may be, in order to bring joy to someone else.
I am mindful that many, especially the elderly and sick may be lonely at this Christmas time, and a visit from one of us will make a big difference in their lives.
I am pleased that for this year there were so many occasions to celebrate the elderly. Monday 21st was special. We were able to mix and mingle with the over 90’s at Occasions. We all enjoyed mingling immensely.
Let us rally together at this time for the good of all of us. Our greatest challenge as I said before is the closure of our main revenue earner and the main employer of our people – the Four Seasons Resort.
As we look forward to it re-opening my Government continues to be proactive at all times. You are aware of the leading role that my Government played in helping to ensure that the rights of the employees were protected at all stages.
You are also aware that very early on I publicly warned the employees of the Four Seasons Resort that the Resort would close. You would also remember that some misguided persons roundly criticized me for looking after the welfare of Nevisians. Time has proven me right. I negotiated with the owners and got them to keep the employees working for five (5) months after it was damaged by Hurricane Omar. This arrangement was unprecedented but as Premier, I had to ensure that six hundred (600) persons were not on the streets without any prospects of finding a job.
Another challenge was Severance Pay for the employees, but your Government worked with the Prime Minister and the Social security and within a reasonable time the employees who qualified were able to get their Severance pay in a very structured way, and in a commendable setting. I really must congratulate the Labour Department and the Treasurer and Treasury Department for facilitating the payments with alacrity and efficiency.
Fellow Nevisians, residents and friends, my Government remains committed to the advancement of this our lovely island. I am satisfied that my Ministers and I have worked hard for the people of Nevis. Our work is visible and tangible and no one can truthfully say that we have not delivered much more than was expected of us in three (3) years.
The progress of Nevis is no accident. We planned it. You voted for us because you had faith in our ability to deliver. We have delivered almost all of what we articulated in our Manifesto of 2006 and we have kept you up to date as we reported to you through 30 consecutive town hall meetings throughout the length and breadth of this island. You have through the Action Magazine visually and in print been informed quarterly of what is happening on Nevis. Also, you have been entertained, educated and informed through the services of NTV, Channel 8.
Our work continues into 2010 and beyond as we intend to bring more opportunities for employment and advancement to the people of Nevis. We will ensure that Nevisians have choices as to where they will work and we will ensure that never again will Nevis be so negatively impacted should the Four Seasons be even down again.
Again in September, the Nevis Island Administration held its annual consultancy on the economy. The theme “Engendering a prosperous future by creating stability and growth through improved Governance” lent itself to much useful discussion, and our eminent specialists in various areas of expertise, provided information, ideas, theories and recommendation that made the one day one long to be appreciated and remembered.
You Government, inspite of the world economic down-turn and the closure of the Four Seasons must be commended for ensuring that your Christmas is brighter than what it could otherwise have been. We have kept over two (200) hundred persons employed at Cherry Gardens. We met with the bankers and other financial institutions got them to agree to re-negotiate mortgages with homeowners who had lost their jobs. Government has kept all public sector persons employed and encouraged the private sector to do likewise through stimulus packages in favour of the private sector.
Over two hundred workers are employed at Brown Hill Communications and an additional one hundred to be added in the New Year.
We have therefore been spared the doom and gloom we could otherwise have been experiencing at this Christmas season.
Fellow Nevisians and residents, let us enjoy ourselves and families at this time. Take time to experience the new road. Visit the Flats and the Drag Strip. Visit the new housing developments in Harbour View, Stoney Grove, Golden Grove, Shaws Road, Eden Brown, Maddens and the ever famous Cherry Gardens.
As you speak to each other, remember to thank the Government for the good work it is doing. Remember to boast of the progress in all areas such as Health, Water, Agriculture, Geothermal, Small Business Unit and of course Education where the three (3) top places in the CAPE Exams have been Nevisians. Speak of the improvement at CSEC and Test of Standards. Speak of the fact that the Government decided to employ thirty-two (32) new Nevisians as teachers and what good this will turn out to be to Nevisians. Speak of the care of the elderly. I thank all Members of my Government, the Ministries and departments that have continued to work hard and so enabled us to improve the lives of our people.
Fellow Nevisians and residents, this is a time for peace and joy and good will to all men. Remember, the reason for the season. Let us love one another, let us share, let us visit, let us eat well and as the wise men followed the star and gave gifts to the Christ child let us give our best to the Savior and our best to mankind – our fellowmen. Let us give ourselves to him.
I wish you again a very merry and blessed Christmas and may God bless all of us.
Hon Joseph W Parry – Nevis Premier