However, it is with extreme sadness that I reflect on the life of my own Prime Minister The Right Honouable Dr. Denzil Douglas, and his stubborn refusal to unify the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis. He has instead become a divisive force promoting political tribalism, the bane of nationhood. In fact, he has exhibited such resentment for the unity movement that he has referred to them as “Economic Terrorists”
Let us examine the meaning of the term. Economic Terrorism defines an attempt at economic destabilization of a Nation by a group or individual. In 2005 the Geneva Centre for Security Policy defined Economic Terrorism in the following terms:
“Contrary to “economic warfare” which is undertaken by states against other states, “economic terrorism” would be undertaken by transnational or non-state actors. This could entail varied, coordinated and sophisticated or massive destabilizing actions in order to disrupt the economic and financial stability of a state, a group of states or a society (such as market oriented western societies) for ideological or religious motives. These actions, if undertaken, may be violent or not. They could have either immediate effects or carry psychological effects, which in turn have economic consequences. The purpose of economic warfare is to capture critical economic resources so that the military and intelligence agencies can operate at full efficiency and/or deprive enemy forces of those resources so that they cannot fight the war properly”.
The economic impact of terrorism can be calculated from a variety of perspectives. There are direct costs to property and immediate effects on productivity, as well as longer-term indirect costs of responding to terrorism. These costs can be calculated quite minutely; for example, calculations have been made about how much money would be lost in productivity if we all had to stand in line at the airport for an extra hour every time.
Political tribalism, the hallmark of the Prime Minister of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, is in and of itself, Economic Terrorism, if one is to take into account, that the basic aim is to force the citizens into unproductive activities and to distract them from the harsh economic realities which face them daily as they strive to extract a living from the dwindling resources and economic opportunities available locally. This Government was elected in 1995 in good faith to manage the economy and provide positive employment and investment opportunities for all its citizens irrespective of political allegiance.
In 1995 the economy was growing at SIX per cent per annum. The NATIONAL DEBT was EC$212 million. The debt service ratio was 3.73% of GDP (the total value of goods and services produced in a country in a year) and 5% of recurrent revenue. However, over the 18 years of governance under the Labour Party, the Nation has been impoverished with the National Debt escalating to EC$3 billion with a debt service ratio of 200 percent of GDP at the end of 2011. (The internationally sustainable level is 60 percent). This was accumulated as a result of reckless spending that was not used to fuel growth in the economy. This resulted in a debt service burden that proved to be so crippling that it consumed 47 per cent of Recurrent Revenue. This is Economic Terrorism.
With scant regard for fiscal prudence, the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, by 2008 had incurred an accumulated deficit of $653 million (Director of Audit) largely financed by National Bank. Subsequently he was forced to drastically reduce his government’s investment in the social services, education and health sectors of the economy. The Caribbean Development Bank in 2007 stated that “the high level of debt service is an undue burden on recurrent revenue and impedes the growth of the economy.” The Federation became the second most heavily indebted Nation in the world. This is Economic Terrorism.
The Governor of the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago and this Economist also highlighted the negative impact this rampant disregard for economic and financial management would have on the future development and growth of this Federation. Nonetheless the Prime Minister relegated this advice to his posterior, to the detriment of the people whose patronage he was initially fairly elected to protect and preserve. This is Economic Terrorism.
In desperation, as the Nation continued to plunge deeper into recession, facing the abyss, the Prime Minister delivered the Federation, like a helpless baby into the insidious arms of the IMF for assistance. This was the beginning of the IMF recommended structural adjustment program (austerity measures). They included “hair cut” by which investors were expected to accept a reduction in their investment and a subsequent fall in the return on their investment (ROI). The stark reality was that persons and Corporations who had invested in Government bonds lost of EC$117.9 million (ECCB Report 2012) and National Bank to had to accept a loss of $57 million on its investments. This is Economic Terrorism
The land for debt swap is one of the more sinister measures, imposed on the people together with a widening of the tax base (introduction of VAT at 17 percent) and the imposition of certain additional charges for health and welfare services which were traditionally provided free to its citizens. Presently, poverty is estimated at 40 percent and unemployment (25 percent among young people) and has reached unaccepted and unprecedented levels. This is Economic Terrorism.
One can concluded from this analysis, that ECONOMIC TERRORISM has indeed been inflicted on the citizens of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, by The Right Honourable Dr. Denzil Douglas Prime Minister.