Fellow Barbadians,??I greet you once again as we celebrate the completion of 49 years of nationhood.
We thank God for the guidance He has given us ever since we embarked on this journey on the 30th day of November, 1966.
His bountiful blessings have been a source of continuing strength and inspiration to us during our 49 years as a nation.
Whether we speak of Barbados in terms of its economy, in terms of its society or in terms of its politics, as a nation we have been able to make significant strides. We have seen Barbados transformed and the lives of its people enriched by the changes which our elevation to nationhood brought with it.
Before we became a nation, our economy was largely dependent on sugar cane agriculture. Today not only have we diversified our agricultural sector, but also we have been able to build to maturity two new sectors: tourism and international business and financial services.
We are now embarked on the building of two additional sectors: the cultural industries sector and the renewable energy sector. Throughout our period as a nation, we have continued to support our very important manufacturing sector, a reliable pillar of the local economy.
Before nationhood, ours was an uncoordinated and sometimes unresponsive social sector. Forty nine years later, we can feel proud of having one of the most sophisticated social safety nets in this hemisphere.
Our achievements in education and health continue to claim both the respect and the admiration of countries in our hemisphere and beyond. The provision we have been able to make for the aged and the differently able segments of our population has marked us out as a humane and highly civilized people.