Opening Remarks by Dr the Hon Timothy Harris, Prime Minister on Leadership Matters on the 7th Year Anniversary of the Election of Team Unity Government – Tuesday, February 15, 2022
My fellow citizens and residents:
It is truly an honour to engage you tonight on Leadership Matters. Tonight is even more special because it is the anniversary date of the 2015 General Elections which brought an end to the long reign of the former regime. In its stead, a historic Team Unity Administration was elected by the people to deliver a better future to our country. Team Unity emerged as the people’s response to a government that had lost its way. The people wanted a more coherent, consistent, and thoughtful approach to governance. From the party moorings of PAM, CCM, NRP, and Labour they rallied for our country to rise above the partisan politics. The people wished to be guided by a broader agenda of country, good governance, yielding positive growth and development for all. Our people wanted a government that is fair and all-inclusive.
On February 15th, 2015 the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis was on the verge of a new beginning notwithstanding the turmoil and struggle associated with the 26th month shelving of the Motion of No Confidence (MONC) which was an affront to democracy. Our government, to its credit, has genuinely improved good governance in our country both legislatively and administratively.
We have established by law a definite period for holding a MONC. In effect, we have clarified what the Constitution meant by a reasonable time.
We have also clarified the role of the Public Accounts Committee, making it possible for its work to be done by an industrious Committee of Parliamentarians led by the Leader of the Opposition. We have strengthened the judiciary so justice can be swift and certain. We meet the people regularly and via innovations like Working for You, Leadership Matters, Press Conferences, and regular sittings of Parliament. We account regularly to the people. Independent entities have hailed our strengthening of democracy as evidenced by our high ranking in independent publications such as the World Justice Report Rule of Law Index.
We have operationalized the Procurement Act #28 of 2012, who’s Board, has convened on several occasions.
Two huge people-centric pillars of our tenure in office are the prosperity agenda and the good governance agenda. Seven years after we give God glory for all that we’ve accomplished for our people and country. Our accomplishments are too many to be enumerated in the course of one night. So I will highlight just a few.
As we reflect on the seven-year anniversary of Team Unity, it is apparent that Team Unity has been steering our beloved Federation on a much better path to a stronger, safer future. I want to examine our performance in a few areas, mindful that my Colleagues will be addressing other areas of national interest.
Safety and Security of St Kitts and Nevis
Team Unity promised to provide safer streets and safer communities. Seven years later we can say that we kept that promise by delivering more funding, new facilities and new training opportunities to our police force in particular and security forces in general. Our recently opened Police and Fire Stations in Sandy Point, New Castle, the Forensic Lab in Tabernacle, the brand new SSU Headquarters at Fortlands and installation of our CCTV monitoring system all comes readily to mind. The dramatic reduction of heinous crimes of homicide is noticeable. From a high of 35 homicides in 2011 to a low of 10 in 2020, we know our country is safer. With crime detection rate at its highest level since 2000, we know we are doing better and our country is moving in the right direction.
Our innovative programmes such as the Alternative Lifestyle Pathway Programme and the formation of the Explorers Club indicate that we were courageous in taking new approaches to rid the country of the scourge of crime. We could not bring back our sons and daughters whose lives were cut short by illegal guns and drugs but we could consecrate the future and disrupt the intergenerational cycle of gang warfare, strife, pain and trauma to our families. While we still have a long road ahead, we appreciate that 20 years neglect of law and order could not be reversed in 7 years. Nevertheless, we are protecting the young and redirecting the adults to alternative paths to a good and responsible life.
I am grateful to all who have given strong support to both these programs and commend them for their dedication and commitment.
A brief word on Human Settlement.
We promised to build bigger and better homes; this was a matter of human security – Maslow’s basic need for shelter. It was a response to felt needs for our mothers and fathers to own a home and to raise their families in a comfortable environment.
With the delivery of bigger homes we have less families living in overcrowded spaces. Apart from building new homes, we have in our post hurricane response assisted over 3,000 of our citizens and residents to repair and renovate their homes irrespective of Party politics. This is the inclusive approach to governance which we brought to government.
Minister Hamilton will further articulate the great success we have had in housing and land ownership.
Job Creation and the Economy
We promised to create new jobs. The largest number of jobs ever created in this country was under Team Unity. We have kept that promise with good paying jobs, particularly in the areas of construction and film.
No longer are young people being denied the opportunities they need to make a life for themselves. Many are setting up businesses. COVID-19 has negatively impacted many but we are getting back on track.
I don’t think anyone foresaw COVID-19 and the damage it would do or the uncertainty that it would create. It has been a tough two years with challenges we never expected. The good news is that the leadership and resilience of St Kitts and Nevis stood out and we managed COVID-19 very well notwithstanding our small size, fragile health system and economy.
My Government demonstrated leadership and resilience by delivering three stimulus packages in 2020, 2021 and 2022.
We were able to do this because we managed our country well building up the strongest fiscal buffers in the hemisphere, in spite of paying double salaries many times, in spite of paying off the IMF debt, in spite of paying $200 million to reclaim, for the people, lands at Ottleys, Cayon, Sandy Point and Lamberts which were “poofed away” in the land for debt swap.
We managed well because of our fundamental principles. The principle of life first, coupled with compassion for each other and the all-of-society approach.
I am proud of the work that we undertook to navigate during these turbulent times. I feel deeply optimistic as we exit the pandemic. Team unity has always focused on strong economic management. We are committed to being fiscally responsible as we continue to provide the stronger, safer future we intend to deliver. I am satisfied that we have worked hard and delivered much on our good governance and prosperity agenda.
I want to thank my coalition partners the Hon Shawn Richards, Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the People’s Action Movement and Hon Mark Brantley, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Leader of the Concerned Citizens Movement. I must thank His Excellency Vance Amory who was the Hon Premier of Nevis and Leader of CCM in 2015 when Team Unity formed the Government.
I hail our achievements as the collective outcome of our working together. Working together more will be achieved. We provided for the first time since Independence a structured arrangement to deliver support to the people of Nevis and can say Nevis has had its best experience under Team Unity.
What a strong team we make and what a force for good we are for the Federation. Indeed I want to thank all our parliamentary colleagues for their support and for delivering for their local communities.
Two weeks ago we delivered houses to the people of Constituency #8 and this Friday we will deliver houses to persons in Constituency #7 in Mansion Village, then we move into Constituency #4 for another distribution of homes, after which we will move to all of the other constituencies, (#3, #2, #1, #5, and #6).
Most importantly I want to thank you, the residents and citizens of St Kitts and Nevis. Thank you for putting your trust in us and for your on-going support.
I appreciate that you had a choice and you chose Team Unity.
I ask that you continue to work with us, in our all-of-society approach. Together let’s keep building that stronger and safer future we all want. I promise to do my very best for all the people of St Kitts and Nevis.
May God continue to bless the people of St Kitts and Nevis.