Basseterre, St.Kitts (September 20th 2015):- The Prime Minister Dr. Hon Timothy Harris led Team UNITY Government on St.Kitts-Nevis is racking up quite an impressive list of accomplishments in just 7 months in office. The Tri-Party coalition of three of the federation’s 5 major parties was swept into power on February 16th after the longest and most grueling election campaigns maybe in the history of the Caribbean. It was a campaign that essentially begun back in December 2012 when the then Dr Denzil Douglas led administration refused to allow debate a Motion of No Confidence that was brought against his government by the Opposition led by Deputy Premier of Nevis and now Foreign Affairs Minister in the Federal Administration Hon. Mark Brantley . Dr. Douglas dodged the debate for an amazing 2 years until he eventually announced the date for elections in Janaury 2015 days after rushing a bill through parliament to change political boundaries. A decision that was eventually turned over by the Privy Council.
Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris in his first Independence Message as prime Minister outlined some of his administration’s accomplishments since attaining power in February.
Prime Minister Harris said “Given our performance as a new Team Unity Government, over the past seven (7) months, we can confidently attest to the fact that – by God’s grace – we have turned would-be-crises into new opportunities and handled our major challenges within our democratic and constitutional framework. It is in our darkest hour that the light illuminates brightest. In the very short period since the swearing-in of the Team Unity administration we have accomplished much for our people. These achievements bear enumerating:
1. Removal of an oppressive 17 percent VAT on food, medicine and funeral expenses. We have brought relief to all of our citizens but, in particular, we helped the poor who were in greatest need of this relief. The removal of VAT has led to a reduction in the cost of living. Life has been ameliorated for many.
2. On Friday, September 18th, our Government made a $16 million pay-out to former sugar workers – rewarding some 2311 of them for their service not just to the St. Kitts Sugar Manufacturing Corporation (SSMC) but to the sugar industry which was the backbone of our economy for well over 300 years. With that pay-out, our Government has thereby satisfied the grievances of over two thousand former sugar workers who sweated and toiled in an industry – with scars to show – and were afterwards denied even a token payment when the industry closed in July 2005. We promised a fair share to all workers and we are delivering.
3. We have made a budgetary support to the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) of EC$ 10 million as a good faith measure. We recently signed commitment letters with respect to the NIA’s debt to the Kuwait government. This was necessary because the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis is only one Country, and we cannot be cavalier in our dealings with NIA. We promised the people of Nevis and St. Kitts a Fresh Start and a Fair Share. We are delivering on that undertaking.
4. We ended the unequal treatment and discrimination in the administration of People’s Empowerment Programme (PEP) in Nevis by putting it under the control of NIA. Equally, we have brought to an end the “gravy train” of the so-called “PEP Committee” which saw well off political sycophants and party emissaries benefitting like parasites from thousands of dollars per month, in flagrant disregard for fiscal prudence and propriety.
5. We are currently devising new accountability and structural frameworks for both PEP and the SIDF.
6. We have restored dignity, decorum and order to Parliament.
7. We have begun reforms at the Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU) – reforms which are organisational, administrative, legislative and philosophical. Some reforms will allow the most efficient ways of uploading Citizenship By Investment (CBI) applications not 5 days a week but 24/7.
8. We have recalibrated our relations with USA, Canada, the European Union and the United Kingdom, particularly as it relates to our CBI. Promise made, promise kept. We have an excellent friendship with the Government of Venezuela.
9. We have ended the shift system at Basseterre High School (B.H.S.) and are advancing plans to build a modern B.H.S.
10. We rescued the CPL cricket games and CARIFTA games.
We are also proud to have been able to engender a new relationship of trust with the NIA and the people of Nevis under the Team Unity Government.”
Based on any standard This is a very impressive list of accomplishments in just seven months for any New Government under normal circumstances. But the situation on St.Kitts-nevis is not normal by any stretch. The New Administration took over from a 20 year old regime led by Former Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas. Douglas. Douglas’ administration was plagued by his own style of leadership which was charecteiriswed by arrogance and a sense of invincibility which led to a number of decisions which were highly controversial and unethical. The revelation of almost blatantly clear instances of greed and corruption by the Douglas administration led to the downfall of his administration. The mismanagement of the country’s CBI Programme which led the US and Canada each to issue separate advisories and in the case of Canada a removal of Visa free Waivers to the country by SKN Passport holders did not help their situation either.
With such a storied 2 year campaign the Team UNITY came into office under much scrutiny . Thus far they have thrived with an almost weekly announcement of bold new initiatives for the forward upward development of the country. Despite continued issues with crime the country has seen an overall decrease in crimes although Homicides remain a major issue.
Dr. Harris in his address spoke about the pursuance of a prosperous society based on fairness for all. Which is based on the administrations winning campaign slogan FAIR SHARE FOR ALL
Dr. Harris continued “We are on a course to build a prosperous society with fairness for all. We will build better lives for all in a veritable campaign that enlarges the opportunities for all of our people to contribute to the progressive development of our society.”
The accomplishment of the Team UNITY administration in just 7 months is absolutely phenomenal. With such a glowing or accomplished start there seems to be exciting and progressive times ahead for St.Kitts-Nevis.