Basseterre, St. Kitts (CUOPM) – Prime Minister the Right Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas marked the 19th anniversary of his ruling St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) in power, making reference to the socio-economic development of the twin-island Federation and launching a broadside attack on the “minority politicians” seeking to unseat his administration by parliamentary and other means.
In a half hour address to the twin-island Federation, Dr. Douglas said that since 1995, the country’s socio-economic development has improved significantly despite local and global challenges and appealed to nationals to ensure that the SKNLP remains in power when then next general election is called.
He noted that when the people first mandated that Labour assume the responsibility of leading the country, St. Kitts and Nevis had been independent for a mere twelve years and achieving Independence was a momentous occasion.
“In the years leading up to 1995 however, the country had begun to feel just a tad shaken, just a tad afraid. And with good reason: The United States was forbidding the most prominent ambassador of the then-government from ever setting foot within the United States of America. Private citizens – not members of the police force, and not members of our defense force, but private citizens associated with the then-government – were brandishing personal revolvers, and indeed physically beating Labour Party supporters at town hall meetings, if Labour supporters dared raise points, at these public sessions, of which the then-Government’s supporters did not approve,” Dr. Douglas said.
He added that prior to Labour’s election, Kittitians and Nevisians were not allowed to look at any other television station when the then-Prime Minister was addressing the Nation on ZIZ Television.
“All other stations would, as a matter of policy, be blacked-out by the then-government. At that time, it was not wise to compose, play on air, or perform calypsos and other songs opposing the then-government. Violent crimes with international overtones had hit the Federation, and our country was being referred to by the international media as ‘Devil’s Island.’ Prior to our election, providing university loans and scholarships to the country’s young people was not even a remote priority for the government of the day. And home ownership, it was the special preserve of the very special few affiliated with the government of the day,” said Dr. Douglas, quickly adding:
“That is all behind us now, thank God. But it was these conditions and the circumstances, it was these unhealthy social and governance realities that propelled us, in the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party, to work so very hard first, to win your support, and then, again with your support, to fix and correct all that had been making our country so very uneasy.”
He said that the extraordinarily hard work that Labour has put in since then to change, elevate, and protect the image of the country has resulted in St. Kitts and Nevis and the Government today holding a place of honour and respect amongst leading governments and institutions of the world.
“We all know that with a population of 50,000 persons, St. Kitts and Nevis is smaller than many villages in many large countries, yet your government’s effectiveness and competence resulted in our being asked, by the Commonwealth, to lead a Commonwealth delegation to the world’s leading financial institutions on the matter of small nation financial prospects and stability. In addition, just one month ago, faced with the question of which Head of Government should be asked to chair the all-powerful Board of Governors of the Caribbean Development Bank – an institution which plays a pivotal role in the social and economic development of the entire Caribbean Region– the most senior government officials from countries as diverse as Grenada and Mexico, Bahamas and China, Canada and the United Kingdom, Dominica and Germany, and some 20 other nations from around the world decided that your country, and your Head of Government, should, at this time, be asked to assume, for the next twelve months, this very important
and far-reaching responsibility where the social and economic development of the Caribbean is concerned,” said Dr. Douglas.
He said he made that point, in all humility, as a means of highlighting the strong standing of St. Kitts and Nevis and the respect that Labour has won for the people both regionally and internationally.
“And I share this because it is extremely rare for a nation as tiny as ours to be asked to assume the types of international responsibilities of which I have referred. I share these facts, my fellow nationals, as a means of underscoring Labour’s demonstrated ability to ensure that this nation – our nation – remains on this positive and remarkable trajectory,” said Prime Minister Douglas.
The 25-year parliamentarian told the nation that there some individuals who wish to unseat his St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party Government.
“There is nothing wrong with that. There are some individuals who have attempted to utilize a parliamentary process to unseat my Government. And there is nothing wrong with that either. But these are also individuals who have knowingly misled, lied to, and deceived the public in the process. They have made assertions in their official attempts to unseat an elected government that are patently, demonstrably, and egregiously false. And those falsehoods, thank Heavens, time has made abundantly clear. Indeed every programme or innovation that has brought significant benefits to the people of this country has been subjected to vicious attacks and malicious falsehoods by minority elements in our society who set out to grab power at any cost; even at the risk of reversing the great strides we have made as a nation and undermining the well-being of our very people,” Dr. Douglas said.
He pointed out that the Citizenship by Investment Programme is under continuous attack, emanating from local political aspirants who are determined to cripple or destroy it, notwithstanding the critical role that it has played in strengthening the fiscal position of the Government, promoting growth and employment, providing funding and support for entrepreneurs, providing mortgages to the people, building the tourist industry and saving St. Kitts and Nevis from the onslaught of the global financial crisis that has left so many economies in shambles.
Prime Minister Douglas highlighted the support for the programme at the just concluded 35th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Caribbean Heads of Government which urged all countries engaging in such programmes to cooperate and coordinate their regulatory systems with respect to both the Citizenship by Investment Programme and financial services given the imperative of enhancing the security of the region while ensuring the protection and expansion of their revenue base.
He further noted that Heads of Government further commended the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis for its ongoing work in strengthening the legal regulatory and administrative framework governing the Citizenship by Investment Programme to ensure that it exceeds international standards.
“Indeed we are already hard at work in respect to the strengthening of our Citizenship by Investment Programme. Although our programme is still the oldest and most reputable programme of its kind in the world and although our due diligence procedures are rigorous and second to no other country, we intend to raise the Citizenship by Investment Programme to an even higher level of transparency, accountability and regulation than what already exists.
“In this regard we intend to enhance our cooperation and collaboration with regional and international Governments to ensure that we maintain, and even exceed, the most rigorous international standards,” said Prime Minister Douglas, who disclosed that the Federal Cabinet has approved an action plan involving enhanced security, regulatory compliance and administrative strengthening to achieve this important objective and a specially appointed Implementation Team has been given the responsibility of executing the action plan in keeping with the policies established by the Government.
He noted that while his Labour Government works to build the country through innovative programmes, minority elements in the society conspire to destroy such programmes to the detriment of every Kittitian and Nevisian.
“Fellow Nationals, you would remember that while Labour was working to bring our debt down; while Labour was working to disburse and increase civil service salaries, while Labour was working to facilitate the establishment of small businesses, while Labour was working to deliver skills training free of charge, while Labour was working to expand home ownership, while Labour was working to secure a long-service gratuity for industrial site workers and upgrade our nation’s infrastructure, those seeking to unseat Labour by means other than an election were expressing utter horror, supreme disgust, and rabid rage at Labour’s land-for-debt agreement with the St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla National Bank,” said Prime Minister Douglas.
“Some of you may have believed that these howls were sincere, that what you were hearing were the wails of principled men whose most sacred beliefs had been viciously violated, you heard what some may have thought were the cries of wounded leaders who would sacrifice all to protect our scarce and precious land, the anger of those who refused to stand idly by while our land was plundered and our patrimony lost,” said Dr. Douglas, asking: Who can forget how the public was asked to rise up in uncompromising protest?”
The St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister pointed that Nevis’ recent land-for-debt agreement tells a great deal about those politicians in Nevis who set out to unseat Labour because of the land-for-debt agreement with the St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla National Bank.
“And Nevis’ decision to swap even more land than anyone else had ever contemplated, turning over to the St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla National Bank tells us even more. But the zippered lips and shifty glances again, I stress, those zippered lips and the shifty glances of those Kittitian politicians who joined with their Nevis counterparts in an all-out campaign to bring an elected Government down – because of land for debt – really does tell all of us all that you need to know about the integrity, the trust, the motivations, and the true character (or lack thereof) of those who wish to use means – other than an election – to bring an elected government down,” said Dr. Douglas.