|by Staff Reporter, St.Kitts-Nevis Observer|
|Leader of the Opposition Labour Party and former Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas says St. Kitts owes Nevis nothing, and he is defending his position that Federal monies ought not to be given to the Nevis Island Administration ‘ad hoc’.|
“St. Kitts does not owe Nevis anything. It does not!” he stressed earlier this week.
Dr. Douglas was blasted last week by Deputy Premier and Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs Hon. Mark Brantley for calling for an investigation into the recent $10 million payment by the Federal Government to the NIA for budgetary support.
“According to him, St. Kitts taxpayers’ money is being “given away” to Nevis…this attack on Nevisians irks me terribly,” Hon. Brantley said.
“Before the last election this was the same man trying to fool Nevis that he loved us…We now see the true measure of the hatred of that Party and its leadership for the people of Nevis.”
Dr. Douglas on Wednesday dismissed the suggestion that he did not care about the people of Nevis.
“I am one of those who always felt that it was important to engender good will between the people of St. Kitts and the people of Nevis. Whatever I have felt of the people of Nevis when I was in government is what I feel for the people of Nevis today, and that is, they are our brothers and sisters and we should continue to live as one.”
He maintained his position that Nevis ought not to have received the $10mil from the federal government, of which Premier Hon Vance Amory and Deputy Premier Brantley are a part.
“I will continue to say that there is no basis on which that 10 million dollars and the other $10 million which [is] expected to come, there is no…credible basis on which that is being pursued.”
He rubbished the suggestion that the money represented the long-called for ‘fair-share’ for Nevis.
“That is nonsense, I don’t understand what is meant by fair share for Nevisians, because the constitution of St. Kitts and Nevis is absolutely clear. It outlined that the Nevis Island Administration is totally responsible for the economic and financial development and affairs of the people of Nevis, like the Federal government is responsible for the economic and financial development of the people of St. Kitts because the Federal government is in fact like the local government for the people of St. Kitts,” he emphasized.
He maintains that the ongoing practice – through successive administrations – of monies collected in Nevis, remaining in the NIA’s coffers, began under the a CCM government led by current Premier Vance Amory.
“…there has to be an equation, a sharing mechanism that has been put in place by the constitution. It was Nevis under Vance Amory himself who disbanded that arrangement… and that is why I don’t understand what is fair share,” Dr. Douglas said.
Successive Nevis Island Administrations have decried the inequitable relationship between St. Kitts and Nevis, charging that Federal monies and interests went to St. Kitts, leaving Nevis to fend for itself. The position has fuelled the secession movement on the island, and still accounts for a certain amount of distrust on the part of some Nevisians of the Federal government.
Both the NRP and the CCM have been criticized by some within their own ranks for ‘cozying up’ to St. Kitts-based parties, when both openly threw their lot in with parties from the other side of the channel in the lead up to this year’s general election.
Last December, the NRP and the SKNLP signed a ‘Contract for Progress’ while the CCM, the People’s Action Movement and the People’s Labour Party (the Unity coalition) signed the ‘Charlestown Accord.’ The two documents were essentially agreements between signatories to implement policies that improved the working relationship between the two islands, focusing on a more equitable resource sharing arrangement.
Douglas however, continues to insist that St. Kitts is not responsible for Nevis. He suggests that assistance across the Narrows should be more formalized.
Premier Amory has stated that the bringing about of a Team Unity government “is the best thing to happen to Nevis and St. Kitts for a long, long time”. He pointed to a lack of respect demonstrated towards Nevis by the Douglas regime, which he said was coupled with a lack of cooperation. The Premier had in the recent past accused the Douglas-led administration of attempting to undermine the NIA and by extension create hardship for the people of Nevis.
The Deputy Premier has also expressed positive sentiments about the new relationship between the NIA and federal government.
“Thank God for Unity,” Brantley said last week.
“The country now has a fresh start and a real opportunity to right the wrongs of the past and allow all of our people to share in the benefits of our country.”