Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris, speaking at his first monthly press conference on April 2 at the NEMA building in Limekiln among the press corps, Cabinet of Ministers, former sugar workers and representatives of PDVSA (Petroleum of Venezuela) said “it is truly a new day for St. Kitts and Nevis” and “the dawn of a new era of government for the people and by the people.”
The three major policy accomplishments outlined by Prime Minister Harris are the soon to be removal of Value Added Tax (VAT) on all foods, medicines and funeral expenses, which comes into effect on April 7; EC $16 million dollars in a grant from the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela on March 30 to compensate former sugar workers who were owed money for their severance payment since the closure of the sugar industry in 2005; and promised budgetary support of EC $10 million to the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) under the Charlestown Accord, which was signed on December 17, 2014, in Charlestown, Nevis, between the three party coalition now in power, the Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM), the People’s Action Movement (PAM) and the People’s Labour Party (PLP).
Singling out the plight of the former sugar workers, Dr. Harris referred to the non-payment of some former sugar workers as injustice, some of whom he said had died without receiving justice.
Quoting Martin Luther King Jr in referring to the quandary of the former sugar workers, Dr. Harris said “an injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
“And it is even more a tragedy when good people see injustice and do nothing,” he added.
“Sugar then was our oil, except that most of the profits from the sugar industry were made over centuries by non-Kittitians and Nevisians,” the Prime Minister said to the small gathering of former sugar workers in attendance.”
“Sugar in St. Kitts and Nevis should have been synonymous with a legacy of wealth for our Federation, but instead, for many ordinary people, sugar became synonymous with exploitation and manipulation,”
Addressing the approval by Cabinet of budgetary support in the tune of EC$10 million, Dr. Harris said, “We want the people of Nevis to know that we will keep every word given to them.”
Premier of Nevis, Vance Amory, hailed the budgetary support for the NIA and the relationship between St. Kitts and Nevis “as the best thing to happen in St. Kitts and Nevis in a long time.”
Premier Amory said that the relationship with the former Labour Administration was one of a “lack of respect and cooperation for the NIA.”
“A new paradigm will ensure that things will be done in a totally new way,” he said.