By Geno Lawrenzi Jr.
The Observer has chosen Prime Minister Dr. The Hon. Timothy as our 2016 person of the year.
He is being described 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.
He granted an interview with this Observer reporter and talked about what he believes government should do for its citizens and for what the future holds for the Federation.
Dr. Harris, who comes from a large family, worked for Wellington Ltd., a garment manufacturing firm on Industrial Estate where he was a clerk in an export manufacturing company.
He got to know his fellow workers well and moved on to S.L. Horsfords Ltd, one of the Federation’s largest private sector firms, where he served in the head office as clerk in the accounting department.
After completing his first degree, he returned to Horsfords to work in the wholesale business at Ocean Cold Storage. From there he was promoted to manage the former Eskimo Foods (now Valu Mart).
He received a Master of arts and Doctor Of Philosophy Degree from The University Of the West Indies St. Augustine campus and Concordia University, Montreal, Canada.
Friends persuaded him to enter politics. He said, ‘They apparently saw something in me I did not see in myself.’
Dr. Harris served as almost every minister in the previous labour administration between 1995 and 2013.
After being elected Prime Minister, he formulated his policy toward governing. Government in a democracy, he said, is an instrument to do for the people what they cannot do for themselves.
He believes government should ’empower and enable citizens to live full lives’ and spends every day working on that concept.
During the 22 months Team Unity has been in power, the government has done the following:
Removed the Value Added Tax from food, medicine, and educational supplies.
Sped the payment of gratuities to the former sugar cane workers who lost their jobs when the sugar industry collapsed in St. Kitts and Nevis.
Rescued and improved the Citizen by Investment Program.
Rebuilt Mary Charles Hospital, built an oncology center, and constructed a mental health day care center.
Named Dr. Kennedy Simmonds a national hero and inaugurated the site of the National Heroes Park.
He is especially proud that his government will deliver universal health care to the people of St. Kitts and Nevis during 2017. Dr. Harris believes in serving the poor and the vulnerable and making health care more accessible and affordable to the public.
In the future, he hopes the government will be able to build a new Basseterre High School, provide more better paying jobs, and construct a second cruise pier.
Dr. Harris said tourism was up in 2015 and said the opening of the Park Hyatt by March 2017 and the Radisson Hotel by Oct. 2017 will give another boost to the tourist industry.
While crimes of violence are still a problem in the Federation, he said his government has issued a six-point plan to deal with violence and that it needs time to work.
On the issue of whether to legalize marijuana, he said the jury is still out on Jamaica’s legalization of the plant. He added, ‘I gather it is not going well in Jamaica and that the international banks are raising objections. Also, the federal government of the United States still has not legalized it, so we shall see.’
The Prime Minister has two daughters, one attending secondary school and the other pursuing a medical degree at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica.
His supporters point out he is the first political leader to have led a tripartite movement to power. He has also shown skill and competence in keeping a unity government together without any scandals.
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.
Over 130 countries provide visa free access to holders of SKN passports.