(SKNIS): 2016 was no ordinary year for the third prime minister of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris. It was a year of recognition and awards for a man with humble beginnings from the country village of Tabernacle.
He was honoured for his outstanding statesmanship with the Gusi Peace Prize at the Philippine International Convention Centre in Manila, Philippines on Wednesday, November 23, 2016. The prestigious Gusi Peace Prize, Asia’s equivalent of the Nobel Peace Prize, is known as the Award for Great Achievers of the World.
In his most recent recognition, Dr. Harris was named Person of the Year 2016 by one of the most recognized newspapers in the federation, St. Kitts and Nevis Observer.
The St. Kitts and Nevis Observer described Prime Minister Harris as “a bold, visionary leader who has not lost the common touch.”
“The Federation’s Prime Minister and head of Unity Government rose from humble beginnings as a clerk in Social Security’s records and accounting department to positions with Wellington Ltd. and S.L. Horsfords Ltd. before becoming the first person to change political parties and win the most powerful government position in St. Kitts and Nevis,” said Geno Lawrenzi Jr, writing in the St. Kitts-Nevis Observer dated Friday December 30, 2016.
Born on December 6, 1964, Dr. Harris holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting with First Class Honours from the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies in Barbados and a Master of Science in Accounting with Distinction from the St. Augustine Campus of the University of the West Indies in Trinidad and Tobago. In 2001, he then pursued doctoral studies in Administration majoring in Accounting, leading to his successful defense of his Ph.D. dissertation at McGill University. The doctoral programme was a joint Ph.D. programme involving Concordia University, McGill University, and two francophone universities, HEC Montréal and L’Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM).
Dr. Harris told the St. Kitts and Nevis Observer that upon the completion of his studies he was persuaded to enter politics. “They apparently saw something in me I did not see in myself,” he said.
Since entering representational politics in 1993, Dr. Harris has won his seat in every election thereafter, in 1995, 2000, 2004, 2010 and 2015. He is the parliamentary representative for St. Christopher 7, which spans the villages of Belle Vue to Ottley’s.
According to the newspaper, Dr. Harris believes that Government should “empower and enable citizens to live full lives.”
Since assuming power on February 16, 2015, the Dr. Harris-led tripartite Administration has fulfilled many of its manifesto promises.
In naming Prime Minister Harris Person of the Year for 2016, The St. Kitts-Nevis Observer outlined a number of the promises delivered to the people.
Some of these include the removal of the Value Added Tax (VAT) from food, medicine and funeral expenses; the payment of gratuities to former sugar industry workers who were made redundant when the sugar industry closed in 2005; reformed the Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Programme; renovated the Mary Charles Hospital in Molineux; opened an Oncology Unit at the Joseph N. France (JNF) General Hospital for treatment of cancer patients; constructed a mental health day care facility; elected the first prime minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. Sir Kennedy Simmonds, as National Hero and designated a site in Conaree for the construction of a National Heroes Park to house all of the country’s national heroes.
The St. Kitts-Nevis Observer highlighted that Dr. Harris is the first “political leader to have led a tripartite movement to power and who “has also shown skill and competence in keeping a unity government together without any scandals.”
“His supporters point out that under his leadership, Team Unity has seen the resetting of relations with America and Canada while expanding the Federation’s footprint in Africa and Europe. The federation has also seen an improvement in Parliament with the election of two female senators,” the newspaper stated.