PM Harris’ Speech at Inauguration Ceremony for His Second-Term Cabinet

Address by Prime Minister
Dr. The Honourable Timothy Harris at the Inauguration
Ceremony of the Team Unity Administration’s Second Term
at the Warner Park Cricket Stadium
Sunday, June 14th, 2020

Introduction

Our esteemed Governor General Sir S. W. Tapley Seaton, Your Lordship Justice Trevor Ward Q.C., Cabinet Colleagues, Dr. the Rt. Hon and Rt. Excellent Sir Kennedy Alphonse Simmonds, Members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps, fellow citizens and residents.

It is an honour to be speaking to you as your Prime Minister following the decisive result of our general elections held on Friday, June 5th, 2020. A result which secured a landslide victory of 9 out of 11 seats, and a majority of the popular vote for the Team Unity Movement which I am privileged to lead on your behalf.

It was an overwhelming vote of confidence in your Team Unity Government and our plan for safer streets, for bigger and better homes and more opportunities for all our people especially our young people.

The people of St. Kitts and Nevis said YES to a stronger, safer future and NO to the same old politics of the past.

I want to thank the election officers and the local and CARICOM election observers who helped us carry out an election in the unusual circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. I also want to extend a special hand of gratitude to our security forces, all of whom helped in the delivery of a safe and peaceful general elections here. Barring a couple of hiccups, the general elections of 2020 went smoothly and – according to the independent observers – the elections reflected well the will of you, the people of St. Kitts and Nevis.

It was testament to your maturity that our democracy continued to work effectively despite of and during these unprecedented times in which we are living.

Of course, I must say thank you to every one of you who voted for your Team Unity candidate on Election Day. I promise, as a team, we will never take your votes for granted and we fully understand the importance of the trust you have placed in us.

With your vote, you expressed the desire to see our Federation continue moving in the right direction. This is the first time that some of you would have voted for Team Unity, and we appreciate that very much. Give the young people in particular a tremendous round of applause for fulsome support.

Indeed, speaking to youthful support, I want to commend the young people, headed by Stachio Williams and Open Interactive, who put on a class act in terms of our virtual campaign. Give them again a special round of applause.

I am especially grateful that so many persons had the opportunity to participate in our vibrant democracy here in St. Kitts and Nevis – and I promise all of you that the Government, which I lead, will honour the faith that you have shown us.

I give God thanks for his grace and his own favour on my life and for the continuing opportunity to take my beautiful Country forward to a new era of unprecedented prosperity. Challenges may come, but I am comforted in the knowledge that the battle is not mines but the Lord’s – and I marvel at the opportunity in this beautiful land of St. Christopher and Nevis that I, the son of a housewife and the son of a sugar worker born in Cotton Ground, Nevis, could come today before you as a son of the soil to serve as the third Prime Minister in an independent St. Kitts and Nevis.

Growing up, I had no expectation of this kind of service. Truth be told, I simply wanted to be a teacher, to give back all the care and consideration, which so many wonderful teachers throughout my own early childhood development, primary school and secondary school and beyond that through tertiary education would have given to me. Let’s give a special round of applause for teachers everywhere who have helped mold and fashion young men and women for leadership in our Country and beyond. So, today, I say thank you from the bottom of my heart to all the wonderful teachers who helped me along the way.

My Constituents

I want to pay a special word of congratulations to and thank in particular the people from Constituency #7. Thank you very much from the bottom of my heart. Thank you very much, for you have always given me full support – and in the elections of 2020, you returned the strongest support ever that you have given me, and I record my special debt of gratitude.

Yes, some may say that the elegance of the Westminster system in which we operate is that even the Prime Minister must be a local Member of the Parliament.

I have always taken my constituency responsibilities very seriously, and I have sought to carefully balance the demands of leading our Federation as Prime Minister with the needs of my constituency.

That balancing act is something all Ministers of Government must do and it demands that they pay careful care and attention.

On Election Day, the good people from Belle Vue to Ottley’s saw fit to deliver the strongest results in my 27 years of representing them, their concerns, their hopes and their aspirations.

I am truly humbled by the support of the 1,870 of you who voted for me; and to the 607 who voted for an alternative, I commend you for your participation in the democratic process.

I will continue to serve each and every one of you to the best of my God-given ability.

Government for All

To those who did not vote for Team Unity, I assure you that this Government shall be a government for all the people of St. Kitts and Nevis.

This has been the ethos of Team Unity. Our Country belongs to all of us, and all we have is us.

No one will be left behind under the Team Unity Government – and I promise I shall be Prime Minister for all the citizens and residents of my beloved St. Kitts and Nevis.

Our philosophy of Government for All is what led us in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria to assist thousands of suffering citizens and residents and deliver housing solutions to over 2,000 families without regard to political affiliation. The same can be said of our very popular Poverty Alleviation Progamme that has made life better for thousands of people in St. Kitts and Nevis. Some like Sheila O’Garro of Sebastian Street, Basseterre are here with us today.

For us to reach our potential everyone deserves to see his/her life improved. Put your hands together for all the beneficiaries of the Government’s support and compassionate response.

For us to reach our potential, everyone deserves to see his or her life improved.

Our Agenda

Team Unity has an exciting programme of policies that will take
St. Kitts and Nevis to a stronger and safer future.

• We have earmarked 2,000 plots of land for bigger and better houses, including affordable income homes.

• More land will be bought back from the Land Sales Agency to be made available to our farmers, our mechanics, our young people and those with interests in commercial and industrial enterprises.

• We are working towards an ambitious program of job creation.

• We will regularise our STEP workers and make our Government Auxiliary Workers, for the first time, pensionable in St. Kitts and Nevis.

• We will construct a brand-new General Hospital, and this perhaps will be in tribute to the remarkable service we
have had in the battle against COVID-19 and the exemplar service of CMO, Dr. Hazel Laws and Dr. Cameron Wilkinson. Our Country owes them both, and the full team and all others, a debt of gratitude for exemplary
performance.

• We will, of course, hand over a modern health facility to the people of Tabernacle, Mansion, Belle Vue, named in
honour of a health professional and prayer warrior, former Matron Nurse Sylvia Garnette. We will commence
construction of a new health centre in St. Peter’s even as we work to provide health insurance coverage for all the
people of St. Kitts and Nevis.

• Our educational facilities will continue to be rehabilitated, expanded and modernized, and a brand-new Basseterre High School will be delivered to the students who would attend that school from Conaree, from Basseterre, from St. Peter’s and all other feeder communities.

• We have not given up and we will deliver a modern prison facility suited for our people, to bring an end to the overcrowding of our prison facility.

• There will be a new Ministry focusing on Entertainment, Entrepreneurship and Talent Development, and we have
seen here in St. Kitts and Nevis that we have some of the most talented young people anywhere in the world.

• We will continue the build-out of our multi-million dollar CCTV programme on the islands of Nevis and St. Kitts.

These are just a few examples of the exciting policy proposals, which the new Cabinet will action.

Cabinet Appointments

To deliver on our plan for safer streets, bigger and better homes, and more opportunities for our young people, we have – as a result of your votes on the 5th of June – assembled a talented team. It took time to put the team together. This is a larger team, thanks to your support on Election Day. It is your team, and the team that you must support.

My new Cabinet mixes the energy of youth and the wisdom of years of experience and Ministers who have been involved in taking our Country in the right direction over the last five years. It brings new faces with their fresh ideas and energy to our Government.

Before I introduce the team, allow me from the bottom of my heart to say a hearty thank you to Vance Amory, who has served so excellently in the first Team Unity Cabinet; his service I hope to continue to put to good use to the people of the Federation in a new capacity in the second-term Team Unity Government.

Equally, I want to say thank you to my friend and former Cabinet colleague, Ian Patches Liburd and to record the Country’s indebtedness and gratitude for his exceptional, bestever performance as a Minister of Public Infrastructure in St. Kitts and Nevis. Everywhere, everywhere, his footprints can be seen – the resurfacing of the island main road, the brand-new second cruise pier, the refurbished ferry terminal, the East and West Bus Line Terminals, and we can go on and on. So we expect that in a second term Ian Patches Liburd shall continue to be of service to the people of St. Kitts and Nevis.

I now move on to the new team, your incoming Cabinet – and I hope that the team would inspire in you great enthusiasm and confidence for the future.

I take pleasure now in announcing the makeup of the new
Cabinet:

Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris – Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, National Security, Sustainable Development, Constituency Empowerment, and Human Resource Management and Information

Hon. Shawn Richards – Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Infrastructure, Utilities, Posts and Urban Development

Hon. Mark Brantley – Minister of Foreign Affairs and Civil Aviation

Hon. Alexis Jeffers – Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Marine Resources

Hon. Lindsay Grant – Minister of Tourism, Transport and Ports

Hon. Eugene Hamilton – Minister of Human Settlement, National Health Insurance, Social Security, Ecclesiastical Affairs, Social Development and Gender Affairs

Hon. Eric Evelyn – Minister of Environment and Cooperatives

Hon. Jonel Powell – Minister of Education, Youth, Sports and Culture

Hon. Akilah Byron-Nisbett – Minister of Health, Entertainment, Entrepreneurship and Talent Development

Hon. Wendy Phipps – Minister of International Trade, Industry, Commerce, Consumer Affairs and Labour

Hon. Vincent Byron Jr. – Attorney General and Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs

This Cabinet Will Deliver For You

This new, revitalized Cabinet stands ready to deliver on the promise of a stronger and safer future.

We are determined and eager to see that our plan for safer streets, for bigger and better homes and more opportunities for our young people is implemented properly and successfully.

I promise you that we will never become complacent or take you, the people, for granted.

We know that you have lent us your vote – and that we must deliver for you and deliver for the future of our Country.

The nature of the challenges this Government faces requires each Minister to perform at his/her very best.

Conclusion

We are aware of how difficult it has been for you, the people, in recent months due to the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic – and our first order of business shall be to return the Country to a good place post-COVID-19.

Times have been tough and there are still challenges ahead as we navigate the difficult road to recovery.

But, with this new team that you have given me to choose from, I am confident that we can move beyond any obstacle that we face and we can move forward to the stronger and safer future.

I thank all of our Ministers for their commitment to serve our Federation. I invite our nation to hold up the Government in your prayers. May we fulfill the charge in Micah Ch. 6 vs. 8:

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.”

May God continue to bless all of us and continue to bless this beloved Country of St. Kitts and Nevis.

Let us, in the inspiring words of Marcus Garvey, recommit this evening to make St. Kitts and Nevis our new Garden of Eden.

Thank you very much, St. Kitts and Nevis.

Thank You. To God We Give All Glory. Bless You!

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