The demand was made by former Member of Parliament and Constituency Representative for St. Christopher Two, G. A. Dwyer Astaphan.
In a press release disseminated to the public, Astaphan recounted what he described as the “fiscal recklessness” of Prime Minister Dr. Denzil L. Douglas and the “tsunami of taxes, charges and rates that (he) has loaded onto our backs in the last six months.”
“In or about the month of August, 2010, Prime Minister Denzil Douglas directed the Cabinet that electricity rates in St. Kitts had to be increased, and the proposed rates were accordingly accepted.
“Nothing was said to the general public at the time. Like other fiscal measures that the Prime Minister has initiated recently, this came like a thief in the night, desperate as he has been for revenue to bring down the outrageous and obscene debt into which he has plunged this country, and callously and cold-bloodedly disregarding the fact that the businesses and the families of this country simply do not have the financial capacity to meet this tsunami of taxes, charges and rates that Dr. Douglas has loaded onto our backs in the last six months. His fiscal recklessness has put the people of this country into a crisis and now he wants to punish the people for it by taxing them beyond their means.”
Astaphan explained that in December, 2009, one month prior to the 2010 General Elections, Prime Minister Douglas stood in Parliament and announced that some relief was being brought to the people with the removal of the fuel surcharge – which coincided with the issuance of a double salary. Yet one year later, “he stood in the same Parliament and told consumers that they must pay their electricity bills, their mortgages, their VAT and so on, and that if they did not, they would be disconnected, evicted, sued, publicly embarrassed and so on.”
Additionally, Astaphan noted, “…Now the electricity bills with the new rates are out, and they show in no uncertain terms, that not only is it not working, and that it is not even hurting. What it is doing is killing people, both residential and commercial consumers alike! And on top of it, he has brought back the fuel charge. I doubt whether he himself pays for electricity, so this may well be a case of what is killing the cow is making the butcher happy. But something has to be done.
“So I am now demanding that he reduce the electricity rates with immediate effect” noting that if the rates are indeed lowered, Dr. Douglas would be exposing, “the folly of his ruthless and untenable decision last August to jack up the rates as he has done, and it would show that he is truly unsuited to continue at the helm of this country.”
Notwithstanding, however, he stressed that in the interest of the people of the federation, an immediate reduction in the electricity rates must be effected.
“But he needs to put all of that aside and immediately reduce the electricity rates. Doing that would not restore his credibility or the high rating in the hearts and souls of Kittitians and Nevisians that he enjoyed in the past, and it would not slow down his march to pasture. But at least it would bring some much-needed relief to the people.”