By: Tony Best
A “new economic stimulus program,” a reminder to Kittitians and Nevisians to use their expertise, vision and other resources to help spur national development and a call for an emphasis on a “sense of hope” and gratitude.
Those wishes were at the top of a list of national priorities which St. Kitts-Nevis’ Prime Minister, Dr. Denzil Douglas, placed before the 50,000 plus nationals of the Eastern Caribbean country as they mark the 29th anniversary of independence with celebrations across the country and in the Diaspora in New York, London, Birmingham, Boston, Toronto, Miami and other major cities.
“On this 29th anniversary of our independence, look at how we, as a people have used our expertise, our vision, and our wherewithal to ensure that our country has its own independent source of funds to advance the public interest,” he said in a nationally televised independence address. “Funds to educate our children, funds to strengthen the tourism industry, funds for our farmers, funds for training, construction, sports and so much more – all through our internally created Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation.”
The twin island federation which became independent from Britain on September 19th, 1983 is now among the world’s upper-middle income states, according to the World Bank, and Dr. Douglas, a physician whose Labor Party has been running the country for more than a dozen years, said that the Foundation’s resources, supplemented by funds from the private sector and NGOs would be used to implement a stimulus program designed to “increase productivity among the employed,” encourage “innovative start-up” enterprises that would help drive the economy “toward positive growth,” and to create jobs for the unemployed, especially recent high school, college and university graduates “at home and abroad.
He called for assistance to farmers so they can produce “fresh, healthy alternatives to foods from distant shores” and made a special plea to consumers “to spend more of our hard-earned resources with our hard-working farmers, and in the process help our families to return to the foods that made our parents strong.”
Focusing on the small nation’s children and their educational needs in a high-tech world, Dr. Douglas suggested that the youngsters needed special attention and computers in the home were a part of the answer.
The students, he said, “take their own computers into their families’ own homes after a day at school, no longer stuck someplace, 10 at night, hoping someone else’s computer will become free,” he said. “Their families no longer paying rent on homes they will never own. These computers give students and their families an opportunity at entrepreneurial independence that had not existed before and they help to develop technological proficiencies – for parents and children alike – that modern employers demand.”
Turning to the matter of gratitude and hope, the Prime Minister appealed for “sense of gratitude as well as a sense of hope” which would be compelling during the independence celebrations and beyond.
“It is my wish that we will be filled with a sense of gratitude because there is, indeed, so much for which we to be grateful,” he declared.