PM Harris celebrates with returning nationals, says nationals in the diaspora and those now returned can help accelerate growth

(PRESS SEC) — Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris delivered remarks last night (Friday, December 16th, 2016) during the Annual Christmas Dinner & Dance of the St. Kitts-Nevis Returning Nationals Association at the Ocean Terrace Inn. There, the Honourable Prime Minister said that Kittitians and Nevisians who live abroad and Returning Nationals have a crucial stake in the development of the Federation.

“This vested interest or stake transcends just coming home every five years to vote or every year to take a vacation,” Prime Minister Harris said. “It transcends the various accents and patterns and styles of speech that we have and use. It transcends differences in education and experiences. It transcends whether or not one has a Green Card or uses a Metro Card, or whether one lives on a Caribbean island with 50,000 or 15,000 residents or, for instance, on one of the islands of New York City, which has a total population of 8.4 million. This vested interest runs deep within our hearts, no matter where we live. It is what keeps persons living in the Diaspora up late at night on Facebook, chatting with loved ones and friends from back home or looking through photos and posts to see what everyone is up to and to get the latest news. It is what makes someone send a notification on WhatsApp to announce to family and friends something that they heard, and what makes them smile whenever someone from right here in St. Kitts and Nevis tells them ‘How come you heard that before me? I didn’t even know that!’ It is the deep ties that bind us. Essentially, it is love of country and of our country folk.”

Dr. Harris continued: “As we celebrate Christmas in the presence of our loved ones, I wish for all of us the assurances and expressions of this love. As it is often said, charity begins at home. Welcome home!”

“It was really lovely and wonderful, and everyone enjoyed having him there,” Mrs. Doreen Tyson, the Chair of the Social & Entertainment Committee of the St. Kitts-Nevis Returning Nationals Association told the Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister over the phone today, Saturday, December 17th.

On January 1st, 2016 during Prime Minister Harris’ New Year’s Message, he informed the Nation that the time had come for the Department of Constituency Empowerment to serve its rightful purpose, so its name would be changed to the Department of People’s Empowerment. Dr. Harris also said that this Department would be re-engineered and re-purposed within the Office of the Prime Minister in order to empower everyone, including Kittitians and Nevisians living in the Diaspora and Returning Nationals.

“Creating a consistent, inclusive and welcoming forum and focal point for Returning Nationals was done not out of political expediency, but out of the recognition that the Diaspora has an important role to play in shaping the operations of the Department of People Empowerment,” Prime Minister Harris said last night.

Dr. Harris added that, “Early this year, the staff under the leadership of its Director Mr. Duncan Wattley immediately set out to reach out to our Nationals who live abroad on all of the world’s continents.”

In May of this year, Mr. Wattley made a presentation to the Cabinet and discussed the programmes and initiatives of the Department for the duration of 2016. The Cabinet endorsed the plans outlined.

At last night’s St. Kitts-Nevis Returning National Association’s Annual Christmas Dinner & Dance, Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris said that, “We will continue to support the initiatives of the Department of People’s Empowerment and its outreach to Kittitians and Nevisians who live abroad, as well as to those who want to, or have already decided to, move back home,” adding: “And for those in the Diaspora who have not decided to take the step of moving back home, we acknowledge their significant contributions to nation building through the generous remittances that they regularly send back to the Federation. Remittances made up 6.1 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2014, according to the World Bank Group.”

Dr. Harris continued: “It would be remiss of me at this point if I did not acknowledge the invaluable contributions and donations to this country made by Associations of Nationals Living Abroad such as the St. Kitts and Nevis Cultural Association of Montreal, which hosts the successful biennial ANSAR [Anguilla Nevis St. Kitts Associations’ Reunion]. In July of this year, I had the honour of attending and speaking at the ANSAR celebration in Montreal, and I am heartened to know that ANSAR 2018, which is expected to attract over 500 attendees, will be held here in St. Kitts in June 2018. My Team Unity Government and I look forward to connecting with so many of our Nationals at that event. I would also like to acknowledge other Associations for their invaluable contributions and donations such as the Nevis Association of South Florida, which held its well-attended Annual Banquet on December 10th. There are many other Associations and Nationals abroad, and newly returned ones, making meaningful contributions to our beloved Federation each and every day, and we wholeheartedly thank them for that.”

The Honourable Prime Minister reminded his attentive audience at the Annual Christmas Dinner of his Budget Address titled “Working Together – Accelerating Growth and Building Resilience.” Last night, Prime Minister Harris told them that his Team Unity Government is confident that Kittitians and Nevisians who live abroad and Returning Nationals can help to make a positive impact on the economy, in partnership with the Private and Public Sectors, as well as the Church and other stakeholders in St. Kitts and Nevis.

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