Cabinet members tell the nation: ‘We are not ‘yes men.’ We respect others’ opinion even when we disagree and we hope that our opinions are respected too’

St. Kitts and Nevis’ Senior Minister the Hon. Dr. Earl Asim Martin

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, JANUARY 31ST 2013 (CUOPM) – Members of the St. Kitts and Nevis Federal Cabinet, representing the majority of members in that body, today broke months of silence after months of speculation regarding relations within the Cabinet.

At a press conference planned earlier this week and held Thursday morning, Cabinet Members The Honorable Dr. Earl Asim Martin, the Hon. Marcella Liburd, the Hon. Glenn Phillip, the Hon. Patrice Nesbitt, the Hon. Jason Hamilton, and the Hon. Nigel Carty presented a joint statement and then engaged in a question and answer session with the media.

In the Joint Statement, read by Senior Minister Dr. Martin said there has been much public speculation and debate in recent months on a range of topics, many of them having to do with relationships within the Cabinet.

“We have chosen, until now, to remain silent because we took a conscious decision as a cabinet not to engage our colleagues in the public domain since that could not be in the best interest of our Party and Government. The back and forth exchanges in the media among members of the same cabinet could only serve to create an air of instability, which is what some would wish for. Secondly, we had hoped that our differences could have been resolved amicable after numerous attempts to do so,” said Dr. Martin.

He said that a number of developments in recent weeks, however, the removal of the Representative from Constituency #7 from the Cabinet, and the passage of the Senators Bill just two days ago with two members on the government benches voting against it, suggest that the time has come for the voices of the other Cabinet to be heard.

“Firstly, as members of Cabinet, we have been tasked with the responsibility of managing the nation’s business. And as a small nation determined to survive – and indeed thrive – in this oftentimes unkind global environment, we decided that now, more than ever, all of our energies and all of our focus had to be directed at ensuring that, at the end of the day, the needs and aspirations of the people of St. Kitts and Nevis were being addressed,” he said

Dr. Martin said Cabinet members have chosen to forge ahead with the construction of low income homes for those in need, to pave and resurface roadways, to aggressively pursue tourism development, to upgrade water lines, and to put people to work in a tough global economic climate.

“We, as members of Cabinet, each have our distinct portfolios. At the same time, however, we are keenly aware that we are members of one Government. One Cabinet. With one over-riding purpose – to constantly strive to make St. Kitts and Nevis ever more secure, ever more prosperous. In a nutshell, to expand opportunities for the people of this country,” said Dr. Martin.

Cabinet members – Hon. Nigel Carty, Hon. Glen Phillip, Hon. Dr. Earl Asim Martin, Hon. Marcella Liburd, Hon. Patrice Nisbett and Hon. Jason Hamilton. (Photos by Erasmus Williams)

He said the majority of Cabinet members have always understood, therefore, “how important it is for us to ensure that both our individual as well as our collective efforts overlap and intersect in such a way that Kittitians and Nevisians would face each day, confident and secure in the knowledge that they are citizens of a well-managed and highly respected member of the world community of nations.”

“Do we, as members of Cabinet, always agree? Absolutely not. If we did, our decisions, as a Cabinet, would lack the vibrancy and resilience that results when there is individual and independent thought. And so, in Cabinet, everyone always puts their best analysis and recommendations forward, to be tested by the equally independent thinking of our colleagues, so that, at the end of the day, the best thinking, and the best decisions are put forward, in the best interest of the nation,” said Dr. Martin, adding: “We aim for unanimity. The ideal, however, is not always possible in the real world. And so when unanimity is not possible, we do what most properly functioning deliberative bodies do: We move forward, or we pause, or we retreat – by consensus. I repeat – by consensus.”

He said that the ill-informed notion that “we are all run roughshod over and we are a bunch of ‘yes men’ is quite unfortunate and frankly disrespectful. We respect others’ opinion even when we disagree and we hope that our opinions are respected too. With this approach, an approach that has worked remarkably well for the past seventeen years – and, indeed, an approach that has worked superbly in nations around the world – we have been able, I must say in all humility, to produce wonderfully for this nation. We have been able to deliver.”

Speaking on behalf of the other Members of the Cabinet, Senior Minister Martin said: ” And so all of us here assembled thought that today would be an opportune time to share with you just some of the ways in which – despite all that was going on in the public square – we have been managing the nation’s business.”

He pointed to the recent information from the International Monetary Fund that announced that inflation in St. Kitts and Nevis is way down.

“In addition, the Government’s tireless efforts to attract and approve key stimulus projects in construction and other areas has resulted in the IMF issuing a revised projection of a 2% growth rate in the economy of the Federation in 2013. Our ongoing land and housing projects continue their upward trajectory.”

“We have intervened with The Cable to halt their planned increase in rates. We have similarly intervened with SKELEC to halt their announced plans to increase electricity rates. We care for poor and ordinary people of the community. The 2013 budget is to be presented in the parliament shortly so that public servants can continue to be paid, that the country’s hospitals can function and may be provided with critical supplies,” said Dr. Martin.

“In Cabinet, we understand that unanimity is not always possible. And so we understand and embrace the ethos of collective responsibility. Within this context, we, with diligence and commitment, attend to the nation’s business and, along with Prime Minister Denzil Douglas, we meet the important responsibilities that are now ours, with the very best interests of our nation at heart,” said Dr. Martin.

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