Fellow citizens,
“And now let us welcome the new year, full of things that never were.” Poet and novelist Rainer Maria Rilke was referring to things that would happen for the first time in the future, but as we ring in 2019, I extend best wishes to every citizen of Trinidad and Tobago for a happy, fulfilling and prosperous New Year, full of things that have been and can be again.
2018 was filled with successes, joys and myriad examples of the human capacity for goodness. We celebrated the accomplishments of our athletes, the ostensible turnaround of our nation’s economy was heralded and we were touched by the kindness of good Samaritans.

But the year also brought its fair share of challenges, failures, and sorrows. Job losses and environmental catastrophe destroyed livelihoods and peace of mind. Homicides threatened to surpass our record high and we mourned the loss of several treasured sons of the soil.

The experiences of the past twelve months, although sobering, should not discourage us from expecting, hoping and working towards prosperity, peace and security in 2019 and beyond. We have been there before, perhaps by a serendipitous confluence of circumstances, but individual and collective will, commitment, hard work and consistency can bring us to this erstwhile state of affairs. The triumphs of our past must provide signposts to our future.

Let us welcome the new year with every confidence that as a people we possess all of the knowledge, talents, skills and creativity together with the determination, forbearance and resilience to put Trinidad and Tobago on the road to sustainable development. It cannot happen overnight and so we must be patient; it will not happen easily so we must be steadfast. It is not a job for “them” the politicians, the government, the police, the teachers, the church; it is a job for us, each and every one, from the greatest to the least. In our everyday dealings, with a little bit of effort we can all be civil, law-abiding, temperate, reliable and honest in our own little corner. We must do our part even as we expect and demand that the powers-that-be do theirs.

As we stand at the crossroads and look to see where the good way lies, this annual juncture affords all citizens the opportunity to reflect on past actions, attitudes and perspectives in order to identify areas that need to be refined or adjusted. As we welcome the new year let our gaze be fixed firmly on the road ahead in full anticipation of what can be achieved if every one of us steps up to the plate.

I join with the entire national community in optimism and hope for a bright and productive 2019. May God’s richest blessings be with us all.

Happy New Year!