On behalf of the Government and people of Trinidad and Tobago, I extend a very happy and holy Christmas to our Christian Community.
Today, worldwide, in celebration of the birth of the Christ child, Christian families will come together in churches and at home to commemorate this momentous occasion, when a very special child was given to the world.
So too in Trinidad and Tobago this holy and festive day will bring together friends and family, Christians and non-Christians alike to share wonderful meals, to raise voices in song and to exchange gifts in appreciation of each other.
It is a time for reflection, for mending broken relationships, for forgiveness and unity and for creating more peace in our homes, communities and in the world.
The birth of the Christ child signaled great change for those who believed and renewed their hope for a better world.
The bible tells us “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life”.
Perhaps, therefore, one of the most important messages that we can take from Christmas is that of selfless giving.
During the course of the year many of us are so caught up in our own lives that we forget to spare a thought for the vulnerable among us.
However we are fortunate, that in Trinidad and Tobago we have a very strong and committed civil society sector, characterized by several community and faith based organizations, working at the heart of our communities, to bring physical relief, emotional care and professional advice to many of our citizens.
Some of these organizations partner with Government to deliver essential social services and programmes throughout the country. Particularly at this time I wish to say a heartfelt thank you to each member of those groups, congregations and organizations for the tremendous work you are doing in our country.
Yet at Christmas the spirit of the season provides an opportunity for all of us to become more compassionate, to show more kindness and love and to rise above the differences and partisan interests that seek to separate us and weaken the unity of our nation.
As individuals, in our families, in the workplace and in our community; our greatest triumphs sometimes come when we work together united by a common purpose, for a common good.
As we prepare for the New Year, I ask each citizen of Trinidad and Tobago to continue to work together to safeguard the socio-economic strength of our nation.
My Government remains very clear about our founding principle of people-centred government.
We hold very strongly to the social contract made to our citizens and our promise of prosperity for all.
Therefore we will continue to monitor recent global trends with regard to the price of oil and its impact on our country, making the necessary adjustments to cushion as much as possible negative repercussions for our citizens.
Rest assured that there will be no cuts in the health sector, social programmes as well as national security. As well there will be no cutbacks in recurrent expenditure such as wages and salaries. We will look closely at our non-essential services and if necessary, reduce our financial commitments in this area.
We will continue to be prudent, exercising good business acumen as we make decisions that are in the best interests of all our citizens.
As a nation we must always be prepared for challenges, but I have faith in our skills, knowledge, expertise and resilience to weather the storms which may occasionally occur.
While serious crime has declined during the past year, murders remain a concern for the Government and the citizens of this country.
This means we have to work harder in the coming year to further reduce homicides, and I feel confident that we would achieve this in 2015.
We cannot just sit back and allow this small group of criminals to put fear in us. We must take back our streets and communities. The police have done a good job in getting close to 600 guns off the streets this year. I ask citizens to work closely with the law enforcement authorities in making Trinidad and Tobago a safe country again.
Today, our Christian community celebrates with an open heart the miracle of Christmas.
As a nation let us share in their joy and as one people let us put our faith in God and trust in him to continue to keep our country safe, strong and secure.
I extend a very Merry Christmas to the Christian community and offer my best wishes for a peaceful, prosperous New Year to the people of Trinidad and Tobago.