Acting Prime Minister, the Honourable Shawn Richards said that people-oriented policies continue to be at the core of the Government of National Unity’s progressive agenda during his remarks on the occasion of the St. Kitts-Nevis Chamber of Industry & Commerce’s (CIC) Annual Private Sector Banquet held at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort Saturday.
“In our first four years, Team Unity is putting our people and our country first, by arresting the fall in living standards and reversing the decline of our economy. Our approach has brought our country together and shown the power of togetherness. It’s an approach I hope can be taken globally as well,” said Deputy Prime Minister Richards, who also serves as Deputy Prime Minister.“We are healing the wounds that have divided the people of our twin islands. Our resolve is to build lasting bridges of cooperation and partnership between both our islands. We have achieved this by pursuing a roadmap to bring equity, fairness and development to the people of St. Kitts and Nevis.
“Our progressive and fresh approach has set the Country we love on the right direction, to take our place on the regional and international stage. God has blessed us with two precious islands. He has made us a strong, resourceful and resilient people, and he has bestowed on us a drive and ambition that are necessary to safeguard and capitalize on all the gifts, talents and opportunities that He has given us.”
He added that the cooperation of everyone is needed to “maximize our potential for the benefit of all our people.”Additionally, the acting prime minister spoke to the linkages between social welfare and economic growth, noting that “…the Team Unity administration has moved St. Kitts and Nevis forward by leaps and bounds — and forward on we shall continue to go, looking backward only to assess and appreciate how far we have come.”
Richards recalled the days when there was 17 percent value-added tax (VAT) on food, medicines and funeral expenses which the Administration removed April 2015.
“Those were the days when wage freezes were imposed on our public sector workforce for four consecutive years (2011 to 2014); now, under our administration, we have given them a double salary each December for four consecutive years (2016 to 2019),” he said.
Administration Recognizes Importance of Training and Education to Enhance Economic Ability
The Government of National Unity recognizes the importance of the education system in St. Kitts and Nevis, Acting Prime Minister Richards said Saturday, and continues to work assiduously to ensure that students and teachers alike benefit from increased assistance and opportunities.
“At least 300 citizens are receiving support to pursue studies around the world – the largest number on record. These achievements make me feel especially proud as the Minister responsible for Education,” said Acting Prime Minister, adding the government is committed to ensuring that teachers are properly trained in order to unlock the full potential of students.
“As part of our government’s mission to transform and enrich the lives of students throughout the country, we will continue to place much emphasis on the training of educators,” said the acting prime minister. “This is why the Government recently invested in fifty teachers to engage in a Master’s Programme of study in education leadership and other areas of engagement in collaboration with the University of the West Indies. This is the first time in the history of our education system that such expenditure has come to the fore where so many teachers are benefiting from post-graduate training.”
He noted that the initiatives undertaken by the government “is representative of the kinds of investments that we are making to ensure that we have quality human resource to take our country to the next stage of its development.” Equally important, Acting Prime Minister Richards spoke to the assistance to the early childhood sector.
The Administration’s investment in the education sector “has seen each child in our 15 public early childhood centres receiving $25.00 weekly as a subvention. The vast majority of private early childhood centres are also benefiting from this subvention, with parents paying the balance of the amount charged for childcare and pre-school education services.”