It seems like it was just yesterday that I shared with you a message of optimism and promise for 2022, coming off a rather bumpy 2021. How time flies, especially as we get on in years and our perspectives change!
Now, in the blink of an eye, 2023 arrives with new hopes and aspirations, new dreams and expectations, new ambitions, and resolutions. Yet, as we anticipate the promise of the New Year, it would be remiss of us not to celebrate our achievements and accomplishments in 2022.
Make no mistake about it, 2022 was a challenging year, with the cost of living continuing to rise and housing and health care still matters of concern. While we must be careful not to overstate the enormity of the difficulties we faced, we ought not underrate the significance of the progress we have made, both individually and collectively.
For, although the hurdles were high and the barriers were wide, we never ceased to persevere, nor did we falter in our commitment to build a Statia in which every resident has an equal stake, and every neighbour seeks to emulate. I applaud the efforts we all made to help create a future of greater prosperity for ourselves and our island. After all, success means little if we are not all a part and product of it.
It is for this reason that I invite all Statian residents to join me in celebrating the fact that we took one giant step towards the gradual return to full democracy with the mediation that resulted in us making significant progress in this regard, the appointment of two new island commissioners, and the signing of an agreement with the Netherlands on key priorities such as poverty reduction, social housing, sustainable agriculture, economic development, strengthening the telecommunications network and more. We also received an energy subsidy for our most vulnerable.
Let us clink our glasses in recognition of the fact that we were able to improve the lot of childcare workers, we re-established notary services, and we relaunched the Statia Academy to help public servants improve their skills so that as Statia Government we can better serve this community.
Let us toast successes such as the start of phase one of the Airport Boulevard, the new Gwendoline van Putten School and the renovation of social housing.
These are some of the signs of a new dawn in St. Eustatius. Like the light of the morning when the sun rises, these accomplishments are a ray of hope for our resilient people and a shot of confidence in our island’s future. They are evidence that we are determined to secure the future by making ourselves worthy of it. A lot more of our achievements can be found in the year in review on the Statia Government Facebook page and YouTube channel.
It is true we were not perfect – challenges remain in healthcare, housing, banking and with roaming animals, for example – but, to paraphrase a quote made popular by Voltaire, the French historian and philosopher, we must never let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
So in the New Year, we will focus on the good that we can do by using the achievements of 2022 as blocks on which to keep building a more resilient, a more equal, and a more compassionate Statia. A selfless society that continues its dynamic growth and maturity.
For example, our New Year will include the Island Council elections of the 15th of March – one of the most important milestones on the road to full democracy – and the continued dialogue on slavery and emancipation in the relationship with the Netherlands. We will mark the beginning of two major road projects: in Lower Town and Road Behind the Mountain, and we will anticipate a reduction in energy prices because of further assistance from the Dutch government.
I am immensely proud of everything we accomplished this year, and the incredible effort so many of you put into helping the land that we love achieve its ideals.
But, as I have indicated, there is still a lot of work to be done. Therefore, as is the essence of our society, let us resolve this New Year to hold dear to the things that bring us together and focus on the good we have in common. Let us strive to be considerate of others at all times by listening and respecting each other’s points of view and opinions. And let us make sure that all ideas contend, all voices are heard, and all hands are on deck.
I firmly believe that this is the way to true progress, the route to further development and the recipe for a more prosperous Statian society. So, let us move into the New Year standing firmly together, confident that we will thrive because we are united.
I wish everyone of you a Happy New Year.