Presented by
Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas
Prime Minister

Fellow citizens, residents, visitors and well-wishers, the year 2003 has dawned. I am pleased to report that apart from a few minor skirmishes, our Christmas and carnival seasons has unfolded and progressed without incident. We now look forward to two glorious days of last lap revelry. It is a great pleasure, also, to recognize and congratulate the winners of the various categories of carnival activities. I commend all contestants and competitors for participating and making this carnival enjoyable and a tremendous success that it was. Further, the collaborative venture between the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force and the St. Kitts-Nevis Defence Force during the carnival period has proved very effective in curbing the incidences of crime and violence. I wish to encourage them to continue the very good work that is being done, and at the same time, I call on all law-abiding citizens and residents to give full support to the efforts of the crime reduction approaches that being currently being undertaken.

My fellow citizens and residents, it is with pride and pleasure that, on behalf of the Government and the people of the Federation of St. Kitts & Nevis, I salute our New Year honorees. I refer here specifically to:

  1. Mrs. Dulcie Richardson, Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (O.B.E.), for her unswerving contribution in the field of education.

  2. Mr. Alphonso Lewis, Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (M.B.E.), for his contribution to the Public Service; and

  3. Mr. Samuel Byron, Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (M.B.E.), for his contribution in the development of the building trades.

The achievements of these outstanding citizens serve as a reminder of what we can accomplish as a nation through discipline, hard work and commitment. These are the attributes that we must embrace as individuals and as a nation, if we are to successfully deploy our varied talents and stay on the course that we have charted for ourselves in the stormy global waters that we must traverse at this particular time.

My fellow citizens, residents and friends, as we look to the New Year, our people can draw on the tremendous strides made in recent years, not only in terms of advancing themselves spiritually and materially, but also in having weathered social and economic turbulence, triggered, in the main, by factors not of their own creation.

In the face of a rapidly changing world, the people of our beloved country have once again demonstrated a commitment to hard work and courage. It is now evident that everything that occurs beyond our borders can have a profound impact upon how we live, the problems with which we have to grapple and the quality of life, which our people will enjoy.

Against this backdrop, the year 2003 presents the same challenges, the same dangers and the same uncertainties as the year just ended. Our country, however, is equipped with an intelligent population; a population, which is flexible, and can adjust to the most testing of changes.

Our country is blessed with a democratic political system that is sensitive to the wishes of our people. Most of all, without boasting, our country is blessed with a government that is committed to improving the standards of living of our people and providing our children with better educational opportunities.

Our government ministers have been prepared to work as many hours in a day as is necessary to reduce suffering and hardship of our country. We renew our pledge to continue to do the same in this year of Grace.

Residents of St. Kitts & Nevis, just two weeks ago I outlined to this country the challenges that we face as a nation and the road map that we will follow. I wish now to express my admiration and appreciation for the level of understanding and maturity demonstrated by citizens in embracing the policies that we have recently outlined.

Your strong support and your cooperation will be required throughout the year if the budget initiatives are to yield the expected results. In particular, we are soliciting the support of the public in counteracting the evasion of taxes and import duties through dishonest means. We shall strengthen the enforcement of the revenue and customs laws with a view towards bringing wrongdoers before our Courts. This is part of our attempt to ensure that every person, every citizen makes a fair contribution to national development and that we continue to keep tax rates at the minimum level deemed feasible in the context of monumental global challenges.

My fellow citizens and friends, I think it is fair to say that, notwithstanding the vagaries of partisan politics and the motivation by some to criticize, there is general recognition by our population of the global economic environment and the fact that St. Kitts & Nevis, blessed as it is, cannot escape adapting to change if it is to compete and guarantee citizens a peaceful and happy existence.

While the term “change management” is often used in our college and boardrooms to discuss seemingly abstract and theoretical situations, it best describes the outlook that should inspire our actions in the year 2003 as we grapple with the challenges this country is sure to confront. How we adapt to and manage change will determine, to a large extent, how successful we are in attaining the goals that we have set for ourselves at the personal and national level.

Change Management will be essential in all money matters. With profits from sugar continuing to decline and with ecological, aesthetic and employment factors in the industry all very relevant, our management of the change process will be critical to how the ultimate decision we take in relation to sugar impacts upon our economy and our own way of life here in St. Kitts & Nevis.

Change Management will be necessary in tourism and infrastructural development. St. Kitts & Nevis have never housed a project of the size and magnificence of the St. Kitts Marriot. We have in the year 2003 therefore to adapt to the new challenges and the demands of having such a project on our landscape. There will be more human traffic on our roads, more heavy vehicles transporting food and accessories, more young Kittitians and Nevisians making their way to and from work on a daily and nightly basis. None of this is entirely new to us, but it will all be done on a much larger scale than before. We must adjust rapidly and manage the process of change in an efficient manner, so as to sustain our top rating as a tourism destination.

May I remind you that the Royal St. Kitts Marriott Beach Resort will bring untold opportunities for the entire economy inclusive of our entertainers in the growing entertainment industry here in St. Kitts & Nevis. It presents opportunities for our musicians, our sound, light and recording technicians and our live performers.

Change Management will play a critical role in the development of this entertainment industry and my Government gives a firm commitment in protecting the intellectual property of all our artistes and all efforts will be made in the year 2003 and beyond to enforce our copyright legislation.

Change Management will be crucial in our lifestyles, especially as we pursue the goal of healthy living. With incidences of chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension on the rise in the Caribbean, St. Kitts & Nevis will not escape the impact of such on its health services and on the lives of its people. My dear people, we need in 2003 to give greater attention to the pandemic known as HIV/AIDS. This pandemic is not controlling itself and therefore people will have to make a concerted effort to contain and control it. HIV/AIDS is the major threat to realizing medium and long term planning for ourselves and for our country as a nation.

We need to manage carefully how we conduct ourselves at the personal and most private level. With the proliferation of public education on this subject, sexual promiscuity ought by now to be a thing of the past for our present population¼but sadly, it is not. My dear people, the most I can do on this occasion is to remind you of four other probable words for the abbreviation or acronym...A-I-D-S. In addition to Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, AIDS also reads Advice Ignored, Death Secured. Let this be our popular refrain in the year 2003 and beyond.

Managing Change and becoming disciplined and consistent about the way we adapt to that change will be the determining factors in 2003. Of critical importance will be how we relate to each other. I am still not satisfied with the level of tolerance, or lack thereof, that we display for each other’s point of view. Clearly, what is required is respectful dialogue in the interest of growth and development of the people in our beloved country.

I wish to affirm, at this point that the issue of Constitutional Reform for the Federation will be given greater priority in 2003. We believe that in the context of the global environment, this option presents the two islands the best possible way forward.

The Parliamentary Constitutional Select Committee will be more active in finding a solution that is mutually beneficial and that would engender the highest level of cooperation between the two beautiful islands.

I am now pleased with the input to be provided by the University of the West Indies, through its School of Continuing Studies here in St. Kitts & Nevis, to launch a series of programmes designed to educate the population on all relevant issues surrounding constitutional reform. I therefore urge everyone to avail themselves of the opportunities that would be provided through the UWI programme, as informed positions can best contribute to the crucial debate on the future of our beloved Federation.

Fellow citizens, I called two years ago for an end to the partisan polarization that clouds our judgment in relation to what is good and desirable for St. Kitts & Nevis. There are still too many who are prepared to criticize for the sake of criticizing and others who are not giving of their best, for fear of it impacting positively on the overall outcome and image of this beautiful country of ours.

I use today to renew that call, for in the year 2003, St. Kitts & Nevis will need all hands on deck, working together as a unit, if it is to have a fighting chance of succeeding and prospering in the new global challenging environment.

We are convinced that opportunities abound for nationals of every persuasion to contribute constructively to the nation-building process and to improve on their earnings. In particular, we expect that the opening of the Marriott, the continued implementation of a wide range of social and economic projects, and the opening of the redesigned and reinforced Port Zante will usher in a new era of unprecedented economic growth in this our prospering Federation. We urge our citizens to take the lead in grasping the many opportunities for wealth creation through entrepreneurship that are becoming available with each passing moment.

As I indicated in my own budget address, your government will continue in the year 2003 to create the enabling environment for cohesive working relationships between the public and private sectors. In many respects we are embarking upon an uncharted path where none has gone before and where the shared experience of all is utmost essential.

I look forward in 2003 to making permanent structures for meaningful dialogue and collaboration. In other countries it’s known as the fostering of social partnerships, others have code-named it such as National Economic Councils, but whatever nomenclature that is decided upon, I intend very early in the New Year to formulate a year-long program of activities, geared at strengthening the working relationship between central government and its many ‘publics.’ Among these, of course, are organized private sector bodies and the Labour movement. The St. Kitts & Nevis response to global challenges must and will be a collaborative effort, reflecting the views and aspirations of all and as wide a cross section of society that is possible.

Equal attention will be given also to interaction with social and community-based agencies. Again I said in my budget presentation that we would be looking for every opportunity to secure and channel resources in the direction of the elderly, in the direction of the indigent and those living in poverty. I speak here not only of grants and pensions, but also to the delivery of service. We must, as a nation, become much more caring, particularly to those who built this country and were not, in our opinion, adequately rewarded for so doing.

Together with economic and social development falls environmental protection. St. Kitts & Nevis are naturally beautiful at this time of the year. The weather is excellent and we have each made an extra effort to beautify our surroundings. This is the St. Kitts & Nevis that we must seek to maintain the whole year through. Your government is committed to a programme of ongoing road and highway maintenance, but this must be supported by individual practices of cleanliness, both at the residential and commercial level. My call for effective change management extends therefore to our own attitude to the environment, including our beaches, the ghaut sides and verges. In 2003 we must undertake to make and maintain St. Kitts & Nevis as the simply beautiful country that it currently is.

My fellow citizens, residents and friends, progress and prosperity in 2003 would hinge upon our pursuing and managing practical approaches to global challenges that are impacting the Federation of St. Kitts & Nevis.

I feel compelled on this occasion to repeat the thought I shared in my budget presentation that “it is the success of these initiatives that will generate the economic activity to ensure our continued progress as a nation.”

2003 has eventually arrived. We must now give God thanks for health and for life. We must give him thanks for shielding us from the natural disasters this past year. We must pray unceasingly for his continued guidance in the uncharted path that lies ahead of us.

My fellow citizens, residents and friends, I am inspired by your courage, I am inspired by your resilience and your tenacity. I know that as a nation we can move forward and triumph in the face of adversity. We can overcome the hurdles.

I call upon my fellow citizens to join your government in working towards the fulfillment of all our national goals, and with God’s help our problems will be overcome and 2003 will be one of the best years in this our beautiful country.

Happy New Year’s Day to all, and may God Almighty continue to guide and bless this great country of ours.

My fellow citizens, residents, friends and well wishers I thank you.