Labour Government will continue to ensure less fortunate benefits from social programmes

Hon. Dr. Earl Asim Martin

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, JANUARY 17TH 2013 (CUOPM) – While some Caribbean countries are having difficulties in paying their civil servants on time, those here in St. Kitts and Nevis have no such problem.

And Minister of Housing, Public Works, Energy and Public Utilities, the Hon. Dr. Earl Asim Martin said in the St. Kitts and Nevis National Assembly on Tuesday that the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Government will continue to ensure that the less fortunate are given assistance through the various social development programmes.

“I have had the opportunity to serve in this Government since 1995 to this present date and the doctrine and the philosophy of this Labour Party has been to look after the poor. And we have been doing that as a government.

You would recall that when we came into Government, we had the situation where we had lots of people unemployed in the various communities and we first introduced the Work Experience Programme. The Work Experience Programme was designed and operated as a means of assisting ordinary and poor people in this country who were not been given an opportunity under the former PAM administration, and we were able to put thousands of people back to work,” he told parliamentarians and the Nation.

Dr. Martin pointed out that some persons continue to work within the service and took it as an advantage as a means of moving themselves forward.

“These are ordinary people we are speaking about and these are people from all 8 constituencies and all political persuasions all around the island that we were able to mobilize and get back to work. This has been a party for poor people all the time. Yes we might be going through some difficult moments and some difficult times, but we have been with them and we have tried to explain to them, the difficult situation that we are going through and we don’t expect to come here and act as if it is an abstract situation we are dealing with,” he said.

Dr. Martin, a Cuban-trained physician pointed out that the whole world is going through an economic and financial crisis similar to the situation that St. Kitts and Nevis is experiencing, “but fortunately for us, that we have a government in this country who understands and appreciates the plight of the poor people in this country.”

“That’s the fundamental point, we have heard of situations all over the Caribbean, where the same ordinary poor people have worked on a monthly basis and can’t get paid. Listen to the radio stations. That is not happening here in this Federation. In some countries they have ordinary poor civil servants wondering when they are going to get paid and how they are going to get paid. Some countries are laying off people, ordinary poor people, but we are saying that we are fortunate in St. Kitts and Nevis, at this present juncture, that despite the global situation that we are going through and all the problems that we are going through, that we are able to hold our own at this present moment.”

“Yes, we understand the situation of the poor people but you must be able to interact with them and speak to them and tell them about these situations and give them some level of hope and that is what this administration is doing in order to give them some level of hope,” said Dr. Martin.

He pointed that it was just in December of last year that the Government launched the People Empowerment Programme (PAP), in an effort to assist ordinary persons who are unemployed at all levels thus providing work opportunities for them.

“That has been the philosophy and the principle of this Government; it hasn’t changed, it has remained the same as it was then as it stands today. Looking after persons who are not in a position to deal with their own circumstances and assisting them in putting policies in place to deal with those situations on a different level. That is what this administration is all about and that is what we have done; so the plight of the poor people is our cause and it is our understanding and that is our blood. The same ordinary people and those are the same ordinary people who have told me that I must come here today and support this bill. Same ordinary people, those are the same people,” said Dr. Martin, elected as East Basseterre Parliamentary in 1993.

“I am not speaking about persons that are in my own constituency; I am speaking about persons from all over who have given me their support and said come, this is the thing we want you to do for us right now at this moment,” he said, again reiterating: “So when we come and we speak about the ordinary and the poor people and the philosophy and principle of the Labour Party has move, the Labour Party hasn’t moved anywhere. We have remained with the ordinary persons in this country.”

“The same ordinary persons out there that we come here and speak about, those are the same persons who we have provided opportunities in housing for. That is the hallmark of this government; all over the island, ordinary people from each village, each community have gotten the opportunity in the Housing Programme. The same people who have never had that opportunity before,” Minister Martin emphasised.

He reiterated that from 1995 up to this present day the Denzil Douglas Labour Administration have provided several opportunities to the ordinary persons.

“They had the opportunity to own the amount of land that we have distributed for the same ordinary poor people in this country. They have gotten that opportunity. They have been able to use that opportunity as to get that extra money needed to send their children to universities all around the world. Those are the same ordinary poor people we are speaking about. The same people when you look around and they are missing, they have gone to university, and from constituency #1 to constituency #11those are the ordinary persons who have been given opportunities. And we have said because you support a particular political party you couldn’t get an opportunity via loans to go to University. You couldn’t go to the Development Bank and get a loan if you supported a particular government at that time,” said Dr. Martin, who pointed out that unlike the period when PAM was in office and children of perceived Labour supporters were denied scholarships and access to the Development Bank, whose Chairman was the sister of a well known ambassador.

“Nowadays any and everybody can go over to the Development Bank and get a loan. That is just to show how we have moved from one stage to another stage and we talk about democracy and it is all a part of the changes which we have brought about, democratic changes. You know how difficult it was before? Very difficult, the same ordinary had so a lot of difficulties in getting a loan from the Development Bank, getting an opportunity to go and study. But we have given thousands of people that opportunity and we will continue under the circumstances,” said Dr. Martin.

Dr. Martin noted that in September of 2012, the Denzil Douglas Government put almost EC$6 million into the bank to assist again in sending ordinary people to go and study, the ordinary children of ordinary people.

“This has been a government who has sought over the last 15 years to resolve those issues which impact them daily. Yes, we are going through difficult times at this moment, but you point to me a country that is not going through difficult times. North America, Europe, Latin America, etc. millions of people are unemployed in these big territories, including the Caribbean.

Not to mention China where the economy is supposed to be booming, everything is a slowdown up there now, because they depend on the other countries like North America, the consumer industry to purchase their products. They don’t have the capacity now to purchase their products in abundance now and because of that everything is slowed down, it’s having an impact on their own economy and so what is happening is affecting all of us,” said Minister Martin.

The issue we are speaking of in terms local and ordinary people is critical.

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