“We will rebuild our workforce and redouble our efforts to keep St Kitts and Nevis healthy and safe”: PM Harris extends New Year wishes

Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis Dr Hon. Timothy Harris greets people on the New Year 2021 through the video message.

Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis Dr Hon. Timothy Harris
Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis Dr Hon. Timothy Harris

St Kitts and Nevis: Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis Dr Hon. Timothy Harris greets people on the New Year 2021 through the video message.

PM starts his greet words with hope for a look to 2021 with much hope, much optimism, and much excitement notwithstanding the challenges we faced in 2020, the shadow of COVID-19 yet hangs over us, there are many bright signs of a happy New Year ahead.

He said, “In St. Kitts and Nevis, the future which we promise to deliver is a stronger and safer future for our young people, better jobs and wealth generation for our working population, expanding opportunities for our entrepreneurs, and support for each of our citizens and residents to realize their full potential. The future we will enjoy in 2021 and beyond depends solely on our ingenuity, ambition and industry today.”

He added, “The COVID-19 pandemic continues its impact on our Federation and the rest of the world. Nevertheless, this year we will rebuild our economy. We will rebuild our workforce and redouble our efforts to keep the Federation healthy and safe. All of us must come together to restore our economy and our standard of living to its pre-COVID-19 levels and above.”

PM St Kitts and Nevis, Dr Hon. Timothy Harris said,” “Part of our plan will see a significant improvement in the delivery ethos of our people. Our employees in public and private sectors must not only render loyal but efficient, effective and courteous service.”

He also pointed out, “In 2021, we will begin to build out our pay-for-performance programme while we revisit the Regulations and Laws governing the public service. High performance must become the norm, and sterling performance must be identified and rewarded so others can be motivated to follow.”

With St Kitts and Nevis’sNevis’s motive, the future would be stronger and safer as we improve the quality of our technology infrastructure and provide greater access to the benefits so derived.

In his New Year address PM Harris gifts various projects for the people, he initiates free Wi-Fi hotspots in all Community Centres in St Kitts.

St Kitts and Nevis govt is Offering of up to 200 specially developed High-Speed Internet Packages to approved entrepreneurs by the new Ministry of Entertainment, Entrepreneurship and Talent Development; and deployment of a multi-million dollar fibre to the home network upgrade which would result in High-Speed Internet to all households in St Kitts.

PM also emphasized that “Our E-Government reforms will continue with our build-out of E-payment platforms across critical revenue collecting agencies, such as the Inland Revenue and Customs and Excise Departments. Our Land Registry, Departments of Health and Labour will enhance their information systems, all in a thrust to make government more modern, efficient, elegant, viable and responsive to the demands of an E-society.”

He also added, “We are serious about people’s empowerment and development; hence our investments in our citizens will continue. Our tremendous investments will be employed to enhance our people’s level of skills and available human resources. We have budgeted $10 million to defray economic and other costs of our students’ participation in tertiary level training, at the University of the West Indies (UWI), University of the Virgin Islands (UVI), Monroe, and others.”

PM noted that” Tertiary level education makes the greatest contribution to our country’s growth and development. This will be complemented with our Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) programme. New and improved learning spaces will be provided at our secondary schools in St Kitts and Nevis and at our Advanced Vocational Education Centre (AVEC) in St. Kitts. We shall commence construction of the Basseterre High School (BHS). It will be the most modern and cutting-edge secondary school in the region.”

“Our health sector investments will improve our primary health care delivery, step up our fight against Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) and a state-of-the-art Cardiac Unit at the JNF Hospital would be another significant deliverable. National Health Insurance (NHI) will advance closer to implementation in 2021. Of course, our main challenge will continue to be containment of the COVID-19 pandemic.” ” PM Harris.

PM also said,”The availability of a range of vaccines is good news. Better news will be for vaccines that are safe and efficacious to become universally available. Your government has taken the proactive step to pay in advance to secure our access to vaccines. These prepared to be available by the first half of 2021.”

“My government will work with each parties and entities to consolidate the early recovery of our economy. Our $192 million capital budget will see implementation of 113 projects including the BHS, road networks, health centres and JNF Hospital Phase III. Our solar energy project will commence. All these will result in more jobs and better incomes.” he said.

PM also notes that “Our hotel sector will continue to make more rooms into operation for staycations i.e. vacation in place and quarantine purposes. Some 13 residential facilities namely: Royal St. Kitts Hotel, OTI, Oualie Beach Resort, Bird Rock Apartments Complex, Golden Rock Hotel, KOI Resort, Ocean’sOcean’s Edge, Paradise Beach Resort, Park Hyatt, Potworks Estate Apartments, St Kitts Marriott Hotel and Marriott Vacation Club, have all been app safely doing businesses for vacation in place or quarantine. We are open for doing business in a safe way.”

He also said “The opening of our borders fully in the last quarter of 2020 has resulted in a steady but very modest flow of arrivals providing a fresh lease on the livelihoods of our taxi operators, hotel employees and growth in businesses especially those which provide security services. Since the opening, and up to Sunday 27th December 2020, our airports: R. L. Bradshaw and Vance W. Amory International had a throughput of 862 flights and a passenger throughput of 2,323 passengers.”

“My Government made a promise to create more jobs. And we shall deliver on that promise. We want to get our people back to work. For those unable to regain jobs we shall ensure that any severance payment due is paid. In 2020 we advanced $15.6 million to the Severance Fund.” PM Harris said.

He also informed that “My government has budgeted a further $7 million for severance payment in 2021. These payments will be made as soon as practicable. Every effort will be made to improve the efficiency of processing claims in the future.”

He notified that “we expect a report to Cabinet shortly regarding the feasibility of setting up an E-platform for the Labour Department and Social Security to interface with each other on severance payments and related matters while observing and conforming with data privacy and data protection issues. This is in keeping with the new ethos of efficient and responsive government. Further, we shall move to implement actuarial recommendations on the Severance Fund, Long Service Gratuity and Unemployment Benefits. We are committed to these initiatives, and this evidences our advocacy for critical historical labour values that seem to have been diminished over the years. Moreover, this demonstrates our love and concern for workers. We will continue to protect our workers and ensure that their future is safe and secure. These are important Labour values, which further demonstrate our commitment that our working-classes at all times.”

Prime Minister promised that”Your Team Unity government truly duty-free working class values. We deliver on them, and to increase worker empowerment my government will extend duty free concessions accorded to first time home builders to the Teachers’Teachers’ Union, the Labour Union, and any of our Credit Unions and Banks which will undertake to build new offices or to make significant renovation of existing offices, and engage in approved residential developments within the next 12 months. This should spur further construction activity in our country and enhance the quality of our built environment. Applications will be products-free in three weeks first-time of same by the Ministry of Finance.”

He also announced that “the first mortgage programme offering duty free concession to first time homeowners remains open to applicants for the next 12 months. Applications will continue to be processed by the Ministry of Finance. This is the best time for our people to become Part if an inclusive property-owning society. This will give meaning to our concept of people’s empowerment.”

Click here for more news