Congratulations to new executive and thanks to the outgoing executive members for their sterling contribution:
Before I begin my formal presentation, I wish to conduct a poll.
Instead of using ballot paper, I would like you to vote by giving a round of applause and shout, but ONLY IF, you agree with what is asked.
·Do you think that it is time for a new government?
·Do you think that the current leader is bad for the country?
·Do you think someone high up in the government is personally benefitting from the Sugar Funds, (SIDF)
·Do you think that one day they will be brought to justice?
·And finally brothers and sisters; are you ready to help PAM get rid of them?
Members and friends. Our theme for this years Convention is Motivating our people through action for a stonger Movement. I have dubbed this speech. “A time for reflection and Action”
Members and friends, brothers and sisters, I greet you today at one of the darkest hours, in the history of our country.
It is a chapter in the independent journey of St. Kitts and Nevis that is filled with economic misery and the highest levels of corruption and nepotism.
It is also a period that represents hopelessness and despair.
However, this was not the dream of expectation, when the heavens opened its doors, to administer its blessings on a new independent nation, in 1983. Therefore, after almost 3 decades of nationhood, we have missed our calling with destiny.
The primary cause of this displacement has been due to the misguided policies and lack of vision, by someone who refuses to recognize that this country is hurting.
The current state of affairs in which St. Kitts and Nevis now finds itself, certainly does not epitomise the character and ideals of the nation, that was led into independence by one of the most caring, decent, honest and capable Prime Ministers, this Caribbean has ever known…Dr. The Right Honourable, Sir Kennedy Alphonse Simmonds.
Twenty nine (29) years after independence, instead of fulfilling the promise of growth and prosperity, the foundation for which was laid by the PAM Administration, St. Kitts and Nevis, has become, the world’s second most indebted nation, and one that is so bankrupt, that our roads, schools and hospitals, cannot be properly maintained.
It has become a nation, so desperate for money, that it taxes the very chalk that is needed to educate our children and preserve our future.
I hope you would forgive me today, brothers and sisters, but when times are hard and the journey ahead seems so discouraging, you cannot help but reflect on the glorious days that you once had.
But for us, that episode of better times in the past, all seems like a dream that has turned into a nightmare.
Today I am reminded of The King Arrow. As you know, he is one of our famous calypsonians. In 1974, he sang a song called; “De Dream” and many of you would recall the words in that composition; so I shall not repeat them here today; nor shall I attempt to sing them.
But I do want you to close your eyes. Close your eyes and dream if even for a moment about your life today.
What do you see? Do you see the challenges you face in paying your bills? The ones for the mortgage, electricity, food, school fees and house rent.
Do you see a land of peace and tranquillity, or do you see a society of crime and lawlessness?
Who are you seeing in that dream, brothers and sisters, as the person responsible for the hard life and misery you are experiencing today?
Are you happy? Is your life what you want it to be? Do you want to make a change to prosperity and a brighter future?
Well, if you think “Enough is enough”…open your eyes!
Life as it was under PAM
Members and friends, fellow Nevisians, fellow Kittitians, there once was a time when our little country was known as the “freest nation in the world”.
Today however, it has become a terrified society, afraid of the record breaking murders, from year to year.
It was identified by the United Nations as a model democratic state that was emerging on the horizon of modern development.
St. Kitts & Nevis had the highest economic growth rate per capita, in Latin America and Caribbean, for 11 years; from 1980-1991.
Today it has the highest National Debt, except for Japan.
Even when we had to face the destruction caused by hurricane Hugo, fluctuating oil prices, a worldwide recession in the early 1990s, PAM still managed to make the economy record positive economic growth, in every single year, between 1980 and 1992, except for a slight decline in 1983.
Our average rate of growth under PAM was 6.5%.
St. Kitts and Nevis recorded surpluses every year, except 1988. Under Labour, for 16 straight years we have had deficits and more deficits….with a government spending more than it is making in taxes.
Under PAM we had over 27 manufacturing companies in the country. Today they have all disappeared, except for a few.
Where is the Nail Company, Sensor Scientific, CSR, St. Kitts Foods Products and Nova Foods? Where are they? They have all vanished under this government. They have disappeared from the economic landscape of the country. No longer do we export margarine, corn curls, onion rings, and other snacks.
Under PAM, St. Kitts and Nevis was a land of glorious opportunities. It was a period when small businesses owned by ordinary locals were thriving and making money.
Yes, members and friends, it was a time when we had money in our pockets.
Those were the days when thousands of our citizens moved from the poverty line, crossing over into the middle class and a better way of life.
But remember my dear brothers and sisters, this was made possible by an Administration that had vision, courage and the respect and envy of other nations and was led by Sir Kennedy Simmonds, the true Father of our Independent Nation.
And I only pray that one day, when this country is able to find its moral compass again, that common sense and fairness will prevail, and those in authority, will find the decency in their hearts and political consciousness, to name Sir Kennedy, as the next National Hero of the land he delivered, from the clutches of colonialism.
During the administration of PAM, the resilience and enterprise of our people was planted in the indomitable spirit of the Kittitian man and woman.
That is why we held our own and made progress despite the odds being stacked against us.
Under PAM, sugar was still sweet, under Labour people have had to ask, “ah wey de sugar gone?”
A snap shot of life under Labour
But what has happened to us? What has happened to this great nation of ours? Unfortunately, we have had 16 years of mal-administration. Almost two decades of a political cancer that continues to eat away at the heart and soul of our people and a country we love.
Last week, I was asked a few simple questions by a small businessman, who is finding it difficult to keep his company alive.
He asked, Mr. Grant, “Who, or what, is a Kittitian or Nevisian? Do we know anymore?
And just when I thought he was finished, he asked: Why have we been made second class citizens in our own land? I was stunned and embarrassed; not knowing what to say in response.
But what I do know is that the perils of indifference, when it comes to this uncaring and victimizing government, could lead to further destruction, directed by a leader who is all for himself and is on a mission to keep our local people poor, and dependant on his favours.
He has become a rich and greedy “king” who cares only about himself and has forgotten about what it is like to be poor.
He prefers to see you, living by the crumbs falling from his table of charity.
With this present leader and his administration, we are lost in an ocean of despair. Ours is a cause of depression, if change does not come.
But I have a message for the grassroots today.
It is time for action! A time to stand up for your country!
It is time to end the ‘Affluent Society” that is reserved ONLY for the “Church Street Cabal” of close friends and family.
It is time, for St. Kitts to belong to Kittitians again!
I also have a message for those who are not members of our party, but who are willing to put country above self. My message to you is that, it is time you take action, to bring an end to the mad dictatorship of a despot who seems willing to sink the entire ship, if he cannot continue to be its captain.
As Sir Kennedy said at the dawn of our independence, “We call upon our citizens to be loyal to this nation, which belongs to us all. Our concept of loyalty does not preclude healthy differences of opinion, political or otherwise. It, however, expects each and every one of us, to place Country above Self.”
Sir Kennedy reminded us then, and it is still relevant today, that “We cannot achieve these objectives without effort and sacrifice. This period in our history is not a time for sluggards. It is a time for the intelligence, initiative and creativity of our people to blossom fort in all its fullness.”
My dear brothers and sisters, and especially my dear comrades, “We must be united in our objectives and be purposeful in seeking (to bring an end to this one man show), and bring a better quality of life to all our people.”
The Government of the day is so divided and dysfunctional that they would pass each other in the corridors of Government Headquarters like strangers and enemies.
And instead of having a Cabinet of Ministers that makes policies for the good of the country, it has deteriorated into a force of ONE, which is divided in 10.
Let it be known to those on the other side, that in a new political dispensation, under the next PAM administration, ours will be a tent that is broad enough, and with as many colours, to welcome those who are true patriots, and who awoke one day, to embrace the principle, that good men are willing to take action, no matter how difficult, so that evil is not allowed to flourish.
However, my fellow Kittitians and Nevisians, success does not come easily. It is a crusade of the weary, fighting for a cause in which we all believe.
But fatigue my brothers and sisters, shall not serve as a deterrent, from the mission to provide hope and opportunity.
We are aware, that the philosophy of our present rulers is vastly different to the principles of the People’s Action Movement.
We are a party that believes in delivering the masses from the cruel realities of being poor, hungry and unemployed.
They, on the other hand, have become a new breed and brand of leaders, whose mission is to exploit the poor, and to keep them in a station of life, that prevents them from moving up the ladder, of our social structure.
Simply put, their aim is to keep you poor, so that you have to always turn to them for jobs, favours and handouts.
We are a party for lower taxes and more money in your pockets. They are a party for high taxes and even higher and reckless spending.
We are a party that understands that the private sector is the real engine of growth.They are a party that causes our businesses to close and create more un-employment.
They are the party that moved our public debt from 200 million dollars, in 1995 to 3 Billion dollars, in 2012 and growing.
There is no comparison. Absolutely no comparison.
We want our local businesses to expand and create more wealth for our people. They have made it clear, that they prefer to defend and promote foreign businesses.
And if you dare challenge them, they insult our small local businesses by telling them they are STUPID and IGNORANT to question, why non-indigenous nationals are being pushed aside for those who “just come”.
They are the party that when our local businesses are crying out for help and complaining about the unfair competition, they are told “So what if you getting competition from foreign businesses?”
Well, if they are not going to stand up for the rights of our local people, tell them, I make no apology, to defend the cause of every Kittitian and Nevisian business man and woman; no matter the party they support.
PAM was right all along: we warned you
It is not our intention to say, “We told you so”. But since 1995 we warned you that they were bad for this country.
We warned you that they would destroy the economy. We certainly knew, that once it started, it was going to get worse and worse and worse. And it has.
The People’s Action Movement also alerted the country that these rulers would do anything to cheat to stay in power.
We said; let us reform the electoral system.
Let us introduce Voter ID Cards, with finger prints.
Let us clean up the list. We begged for the management of the electoral process to be changed.
All this we did, and they ignored us. But today, look at what they have done to this country, with a corrupt system that mismanages the process of elections.
It is now a system that has destroyed our democracy. It is one, where no longer we have elections that are free and fair.
Instead, we have elections under the threat of the machine guns of the army.
Instead of protecting the integrity of our democracy, they have corrupted the law enforcement agencies, using guns to deny our people the right to elect the government they desire.
Oh my brothers and sisters, the record is clear….
From Statehood to Independence, we have had Sir Robert Bradshaw, who took on the might of the British.
Southwell who is credited for his tourism vision….
Sir Lee L Moore for his legal and judicial brilliance….
Sir Kennedy Simmonds for his diversification of the economy, delivery of independence and strong economic growth….
And look what we have today, ‘Ten Man in One’, who is the architect of the worse economic depression and National Debt this country has ever seen. Brothers and sisters, this is his legacy.
Members and friends, this country is in need of a spiritual healing. But it is also in need of a new government. One that would liberate us from this dark dungeon of economic desolation!
This is why the People’s Action Movement cannot afford to fail the next time around. We must be prepared for the inevitable. To win, they will try to cheat and manipulate the system and corrupt the people working within it. We shall be ready for them.
We are confident, that better can be done to resuscitate our dying economy. As a party, the People’s Action Movement is willing to make its contribution to help rebuild the business sector, create jobs, stimulate growth and development, and unleash the avalanche of economic opportunities to give new life to small businesses.
As a party we are ready to offer our guidance back to a path of prosperity. And indeed PAM is committed to restoring the health of our infrastructure and social services.
With the leadership of the People’s Action Movement, our roads could be paved again. Our hospitals could secure the medicines and supplies so badly needed, to care for the old and sick.
Recognizing that education holds the key to the future of our children and nation, once again, under PAM, we could have the resources to train our teachers, reward them for excellence, provide desks and chairs, proper labs, and yes, chalk.
The People’s Action Movement is the only party in St. Kitts that understands that the economy could only improve if we create the enabling environment for our businesses to thrive, expanding and creating new jobs and markets.
We understand that growth comes through lower taxes because this leads to higher spending; and this is so badly needed, to inject life into the economy.
The more we export, the greater is our economic growth, and PAM understands that philosophy.
The only problem, things are so bad today, that St. Kitts and Nevis has nothing to export, except jobs.
Because of the crippling policies, high electricity surcharge, the 17% Value Added Tax, the stubborn refusal to lend a helping hand to local businesses and constant attacks on the private sector, one by one, our companies are closing.
It was with great sadness I learnt just Friday, some 2 days ago, that one of our biggest local companies has already begun to make some of its workers redundant, despite its best efforts to find other alternatives to save these jobs.
But when we have a government that establishes a policy, to create incentives to encourage consumers, to travel overseas to shop at the busiest time of the year, robbing local companies of the much needed sales, how can we be surprised of job losses?
It is simple; when your sales are lower there is less money to pay salaries. And this leads to more people losing their jobs.
But does the government care? No, they don’t!
Because what was their response, when our entrepreneurs cried out for help? The response was, “So what if you getting competition?”
And so Electrofab has closed, The Singer Company has closed, ….. and very soon, I am told, another well known store in town is to close its doors as well.
In addition, we have seen workers being laid off from Ocean cold Storage, Port Authority, ……. and the final 60 workers from SSMC will soon be sent home.
So many thousands of family members have been affected, but who cares? Certainly not the man who said the Sugar Industry will close over his dead body. And before you could wink…the final horn was blowing, ending the livelihood of hundreds.
It will be the little children and the grandmothers of these workers who will care. They will care, when their medicines cannot be paid for anymore. They will care when the school fees, uniforms, books and food on the table are not forthcoming so easily anymore.
But it will be difficult for the leader to care because he is alright. It takes many decades for 7, much less 76 million dollars to be depleted.
And why should the Common Law husband and his Common Law wife care anyway? They are happy with their millions and the operations of Lex Consulting. And as a reward for personal loyalty, but betrayal to country, the new senior diplomat has been appointed an ambassador in the Far East.
This new office and its operations must be closely monitored, because, how can we have a diplomat who has been assigned, not to promote our industries and national security, but to protect the interest of the Common Law husband, in a land where millions of dollars pour in from the sale of our citizenship. And the only ones who are benefiting are the close friends and families.
We must also be vigilant because this appointment has come, totally unknown to the chief diplomat and Minister who holds responsibility for such overseas missions.
The questions we have to ask are:
Why has that person been appointed?
Why to that specific office?
Is it true that it shall also serve as the office for the sale of our passports and citizenships?
Is there a connection that requires secrecy?
Members and friends, this country is no longer a democracy, it is an autocracy.
But I wish to sound a warning, the international community is watching – it is closely watching the dealings of Lex Consulting and it is certainly watching the misuse of our passports- the international community has taken careful note to see how the people of St Kitts-Nevis will hold them accountable for their deeds at the polls. I caution us here, before the international community brings sanctions upon our Country for the misconduct of this Labour Government. Let it not be the international community that sanctions the Government so that Kittitians and Nevisians can no longer travel to a country which we are accustomed to travel or sanction us so that our citizens cannot stay but a few days when before sanction we could have stayed a month – It is for the people of St Kitts-Nevis to sanction this Government at the polls before the international community brings sanction. It is for Kittitians and Nevisians to say Enough – then we can expect the support of those watching carefully.
It is clear, we need a new direction.
That is why a new PAM government will ensure that there is legislation for Freedom of Information and Integrity in Public Life.
But to turn around our fortunes, more than that is required.
A new PAM government will place greater emphasis on agriculture, as a pillar of economic security and prosperity.
A new PAM administration will again demonstrate that the economy could be made healthier and thrive better if your taxes are lower.
We do not want higher taxes; we want greater efficiency in tax collection. That is why fiscal prudence through better spending controls, more efficient tax collection, and greater productivity will also become hallmarks of a new PAM administration.
We will make the lands of our country, available to all nationals at affordable prices, just as we promised in 2010. Our ancestors toiled on these lands during slavery, Bradshaw secured them from the plantocracy and Simmonds paid for them, to deliver our patrimony into the rightful hands of the ordinary masses.
And after such a struggle, the current leader has betrayed the aspirations of our people, by returning our lands to those from whom they were taken.
We have to provide greater incentives to the productive sectors of our economy, and it is here, we would, as the next party in government, invest much of our efforts.
However, we recognize that as a small developing nation of 104 square miles and 50,000 people, we cannot do it alone.
We have to forge strategic relationships with our friends in the international community, including Venezuela, Cuba, Brazil, and Taiwan.
Now I am sure, we all could appreciate the foresight in the decision of the PAM government to establish diplomatic ties, with our friends in the Republic of China, on Taiwan just months after independence.
I say this, not to embarrass anyone, but let us be reminded that 29 years ago when we braced the political storms and international pressures to recognize Taiwan, those now in government laughed at us, and ridiculed our Taiwanese friends.
But let it be known, that PAM’s solidarity for Taiwan is just as strong today, as it was when we ignored the dictates of the super powers to forge ties with this great Asian giant of enterprise and technology. God bless Sir Kennedy for his wisdom and Taiwan for beleiving in us.
We have benefitted from these diplomatic relationships and today I invite you to join me in giving a standing ovation to the contributions of these nations.
The Path Ahead for PAM
Now let us turn our attention to the future.
I wish to assure the rank and file of the People’s Action Movement, that your party has been kept busy these past months. I wish to inform you as of today we are on high alert.
Very soon therefore ,we will be rolling out a comprehensive series of events, activities and actions that shall constitute our Road Map to Victory.
Key to that Road Map, is the election of new candidates for constituencies, 1, 2, 3 6, and 7.
This process will also see, all existing candidates, going through a process of re-confirmation, starting with myself in Constituency Number 4.
All this is soon to begin and the various constituency groups are being put on alert, for a series of special conferences that will begin next month. Thus, in a very short time- span, we shall be in a position to present the brand new slate of PAM candidates, to contest the next General Elections.
Also, of considerable note, is the massive internal restructuring that has commenced. This will make our various party organs stronger, more effective and far more energized.
Ours will be a party again that will be driven by the power of the women and youth, blended by the wisdom of our stalwarts.
Let me also sound a warning that beginning immediately as a post convention program, the people of this country will begin to feel the weight of the PAM party, as we adopt a more aggressive but productive posture, in the representation of the concerns of the people.
We will not disclose the finer points of our new strategy, in this forum, but you the members, who need to know, will be informed through the various channels of the party.
No longer shall we allow our country to be overtaken by one man and his brand of party politics.
I want all those under the sound of my voice, to tell him, that it will take more than his doctored videos and attempts to smear our good name and character, to halt of our conviction to use the might of the ballots to get rid of him.
Make no mistake about my resolve to defend our honour and rescue this country.
In times like these, we cannot afford to remain silent and take no action. We will champion the cause of our people. We will take our fights where ever they lead us. We have to lead the movement to occupy Church Street.
Brothers and sisters, members and friends, I have heard your call. And I accept that, Enough is enough!
With the high rate of electricity…enough is enough!
Seventeen percent VAT and higher taxes…enough is enough!
Record breaking murders with five already this year…enough is enough!
Millions of our dollars going into Lex Consulting…enough is enough!
High food prices, businesses closing, job losses and taxes on chalk…enough is enough!
We owe it to our children to fight against this new wave of oppressive rule and mismanagement.
This is not a matter about PAM. This is about our children’s future.
This is not an argument about party loyalty…this is a struggle to survive…a battle to feed our children, a cause to ease the heavy burden placed on the old, the poor and the disadvantaged.
This must be a mission to change the political culture: making it more transparent, with, integrity in public life, free and fair elections, freedom of information…and the building of one nation, glued together, fighting a common cause for the good of the whole, not for the benefit of a few.
We will mobilize and get stronger. But this will be no easy stroll in the park because I know the road to freedom will be tough.
But we will succeed with the help of the Almighty and the involvement of the entire nation; no matter your political beliefs.
In closing….let me make it abundantly clear, to those who are aiming to destroy me…tell them Lindsay Grant is back to fight for all our people.