In making his case, Douglas argued that “It is really a pity that our people descend to deliberate finger pointing without proper cause, because those persons of China Taiwan, who are here in St. Kitts, are citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis and that is why it is so unfortunate.”
He continued his argument by stating that St. Kitts and Nevis has always had Chinese people here. As an example, he cited the late medical practitioner, Dr. Jong, saying that when he came here, he was considered to be Chinese, though he was from Indonesia.
He said he really does not see the need for “stupid statements”, and he said he has no apology to say that stupid statements being made on platforms will drive all the Chinese out of St. Kitts.
He said, in a modern country like St. Kitts and Nevis, trying to bring divide between our people will drive out the Indians as well. Douglas also suggested that we are going to drive out the white people as well. That is what we have descended to today, stated the Prime Minister.
He said he really does not like to get into this kind of discussion and debate, because he feels a lot of it is ignorance, and if the Chinese businessmen are doing business here, and they are citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis, why should they be restricted?
He continued, “So what if they bring competition, it is to the benefit of the people, so what if they bring competition; this is a free market society that we are working under. That is why it disturbs me when I hear the Chamber making these statements, so I really don’t understand why, and some of the arguments state that it is unfair competition, because they can get cheap capital from mainland China to invest and the local businessmen can’t get that cheap capital. The local businessmen must understand that they have had for years, maybe centuries, total monopoly on business here in St. Kitts and Nevis (and) if there is now completion, open it up… you be creative… you become enterprising, find ways of being competitive as well.”
However, as one businessman told MiyVue.com, it is either the Prime Minister does not really understand the issue, or he cares little about the problems being faced by local enterprises and that he obviously is not in step with the concerns being raised.
The remarks made by the Prime Minister, said the business executive, are not only insensitive, but a clear demonstration that the government is not serious about helping local businesses.
He said the Prime Minister’s claim that local businesses have had a monopoly for “centuries” in the local market, makes one wonder, what local business has been around for two or more centuries. The trouble with Douglas’ comment is that there is absolutely no local company in the country that has existed for such a period, said the entrepreneur.
The business executive, said it seems like the Prime Minister is not aware that it was only in 1834 that the slavery of black local people was abolished, some 178 years ago. He wondered therefore how they have been able to gain a monopoly for centuries.
Perhaps the oldest existing company in St. Kitts is Delisle Walwyn, which was founded about 125 years ago, (not by local black entrepreneurs).
Among the concerns being raised by local businessmen, are those that claim that special favours and concessions or facilitations are being provided to the Chinese establishments, while the same is not applied to indigenous Kittitian/Nevisians.
It is also claimed that some Chinese operators pay wages far below the official minimum requirements, forcing employees to accept working compensation and conditions, often described as close to slavery, therefore making their operating costs much lower.
In addition Kittitians and Nevisians have made the case that these Chinese establishments do not make any contribution to the social development of the country, while government and other non government organizations, receive millions each year from local businesses, for church events, youth development, carnival, Culturama, Music Festival, sport, hospitals, and even some government projects and initiatives.