February 22 nd 1979 was the date when Saint Lucia became an independent nation. Twenty five years later, the citizens and all those who find themselves on this piece of   rock have many good reasons to celebrate.

   Many arguments could be advanced as to how much more could have been achieved, but I have learnt that in everything to be thankful. The leaders of this beautiful island over the years of independence have done their best in the circumstances. Each of the past Prime Ministers if given an opportunity to do some things they did in the past would have done it differently. It is for the current leadership to look back at the past and chart a course that will avoid the pitfalls of the past and take us on a highway of progress in the years ahead.

   This is a unique opportunity to close the books on the past, taking away the lessons both negative and positive and move forward. The most important challenge is to achieve unity among our people. Unity can be achieved by engaging civil society in all aspects of national life.

   Independence is very much in the air, many of our citizens are involved in the activities and the theme of this significant milestone is very fitting. "Taking Responsibility for our Country's Development" If this theme is to be translated into action it means that a mechanism must be put in place to ensure that the people are involved in every aspect of development. Involvement will guarantee a greater level of commitment. Working together will foster unity.

   It is necessary for us to get involved in the celebrations, feel the pride, feel the joy, feel good about ourselves and the achievements of our country. The thousands who had the opportunity to visit the St. Lucia National Trade & Services Exhibition held in Vieux Fort were exposed to the progress being made in the manufacturing and services sectors. It is important for us to see for ourselves what is happening in our country. Seeing helps to build confidence and challenge citizens to rise to the occasion. They too can make a contribution. There is talk about the exhibition becoming a feature on the calendar of activities. I would like to suggest that Industry Fairs be held, several in a year. This will allow a focused approach and give visitors greater opportunity for one on one contact with exhibitors. The time has come for a standing exhibition management committee with a full time Executive Director. It would be amiss of me if I do not congratulate the organizers of the St. Lucia National Trade & Services Exhibition for a job, well done!!!

   The future looks great. It is up to us to seize the moment and move forward. Saint Lucia is a blessed country. It is for us to truly recognize this gift and love each other, embrace our neighbours, more away from the divisive temptations and actions and strive for peace and love. It is important for us to learn fast the power of lifting up rather than cutting down. Get out there and make your contribution. Do not stand back and be jealous of others when they make an attempt to move forward. We have had enough of this type of behaviour in the past. Let the future be characterized by LOVE!!

   Happy 25 th Independence Anniversary!!! Let us celebrate Love!!!