Brantley: PM, Come Clean About the Exact State of the Economy

Brantley told MiyVue.com that not too long ago, Dr. Denzil Douglas and his team were declaring that “it is working”, making reference to tourism, the economy and other aspects of Kittitian Nevisian society. One the contrary, however, he has recently admitted that the national debt had reached an “unsustainable” level and intervention from the International Monetary Fund has been sought and acquired.

He said this is evidence that the Prime Minister, who is also the Minister of Finance, has not heeded past warnings issued about the climbing debt.

“The reality in St. Kitts Nevis is that the IMF is here. For many many years we have been talking about the state of the economy, we have talking about the government’s fiscal policy and we have been talking about the state of the national debt. The Prime Minister has (not) heeded the warning signs. Indeed just recently I saw an article written by Dr. Everson Hull – an economist of Nevisian birth who lives in Washington – (who) warned about IMF intervention some 10 years ago. And so the reality is that we have now found out that we are at this critical crossroads in the development of our nation where the IMF…is not just at our doorsteps, it is not sitting in our living room.”

Brantley questioned the suggestion that the US$84 million stand-by agreement is without conditions, describing it as “preposterous” noting that “any average man or woman in this country only has to consider whether any bank in Charlestown or Basseterre would provide funding to them on a basis which does not have conditions attached.”

“The IMF is a lender of last resort; it is where people go when no one else is there to do business with and the mere fact that we are having this type of interaction with the IMF is in itself speaking volumes to the very precarious state in which we find ourselves.”

The Opposition Leader said it is time that the Prime Minister speaks frankly to the nation about its exact fiscal standing.

“In my first budget address as Leader of the Opposition in 2007, I indicated that the debt was choking us to death. The reality is that the Prime Minister, we well remember his very crafty remarks in relation to the debt, a remark that has now become a matter of unfortunate political folklore in our country…

“I think those of us who have been in Parliament, those of us who listened and participated in budget debates, we have an understanding of how difficult things are. But it is sometimes difficult to filter down to the man or woman on the street of course because while one side explains that things are dire, the government continues to say its working and that is the harsh reality we face. I think it is time that we have some honesty from the Prime Minister on these very very difficult issues that we face in this country.”

Asked if he thinks the Prime Minister will ever “come clean” about the nations fiscal standing, Brantley indicated that there are times when people have no choice but to be honest.

“I think sometimes honesty is forced upon you. In 2004 or thereabout when the Prime Minister was asked about the debt, you recall his comments. Now he is forced to say the debt is unsustainable. So sometimes when the reality of the situation starts to hit home,…I don’t think he has mush choice than to be honest.”

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