Last week Tuesday Premier and Minister for Finance Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith announced that he would not be contesting the upcoming general elections as leader of the ruling National Democratic Party, which means that should the party win the 2019 election the new NDP Chairman will be Premier. However, with a year to go until he officially says goodbye to the Premiership Dr. Smith shared some things he would like to see completed.
In his 19 June farewell statement Hon. Smith said: “Tragically, the opening pages of that chapter will be defined by the hardship of natural disaster. But I am convinced that the pages that follow will be a tale of triumph…There is so much work left to do. With this decision, I will be free to dedicate 100 percent of my time and attention to that task.”
When asked by the media during a press conference on 21 June what tasks he is hoping to see completed before his official exit from office Hon. Smith said: “There are many things that are there that need to be continued, one of the things I am really interested in – of course the whole recovery that’s extremely important.”
The Premier said that he would like to see the revitalization of the tourism sector as a number of hotels were destroyed by the September merciless hurricanes. “We have a journey ahead to really get those hotels back up and running…We know that some of those owners have already started to rebuild and are in the process of making their plans so I am happy with that,” he noted.
Another area mentioned by the Premier is a national pension plan which he said would be a great help to the people of the Territory: “One of the things that I am interested in really is looking at the whole national pension and this is something we have been talking about now for several years and we are going to push on with it,” Hon. Smith said.
The Premier mentioned the National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme and said that the pension plan will also be a programme that betters lives: “We did the National Insurance Policy a couple of years ago, that was something that was really helpful and would be able to help people of this Territory and I think the National Pension Program is something that will be also very, very important,” he explained.
For years the Premier has championed the need for a pension program. Back in 2015 it was announced on 23 June during the government’s Swearing-in ceremony that the programme was in its final stages.
During that ceremony the Premier said: “I will finally put in place that pension program that we spoke about for some time. It is just because all of the background work has been done, and it is important because I know that there are many people who because of the nature of their work when it is time to retire the retirement allowances that they have are not really sufficient.”
“With the pension program that I have spoken about in place everybody will be able to retire and rest assured with the knowledge that that a safety blanket will be there,” Hon. Smith added.