Party officials have been painting a picture of prosperity and growth during their term in office spanning from 1980-1995, under the leadership of Dr. Sir Kennedy Simonds, who became the fourth Premier when PAM and the Nevis Reformation Party, (NRP), formed a coalition government in February, 1980.
One of the most significant achievements being touted by party loyalists is the attainment of independence of St. Kitts and Nevis on 19th September, 1983, with Simmonds taking the historic step to be named the first Prime Minister of the world’s newest nation at the time. This constitutional milestone, they note, helped to launch the platform of upward mobility for both the country generally and the citizens in particular.
Other signal developments that they have pointed to include the development of Port Zante, which, as one PAM official indicated, many people are not aware was created by the People’s Action Movement under heavy objection and criticism from the then opposition Labour party. The creation of the St. Kitts and Nevis Telecommunications Company, SKANTEL, (now Cable & Wireless/LIME), was another pillar of advancement that PAM cites as a positive measure that helped to transform the telecommunication industry, making it what it is today.
So too, have they highlighted the development of the Southeast Peninsula road which was described as the “gateway to progress” and the future of the tourism sector.
In the words of one of the founding members, Richard Caines, who also served as a Junior Finance Minister of the country, PAM was “born out of the need to help poor people.” It was in furtherance of that philosophy, said a PAM official, why they abolished personal income tax and preferred to apply in-direct taxes so that the people may have options and better control over their expenditure. The removal of the so called “death tax” was another policy action that PAM said it undertook to help the more vulnerable people in society.
Caines indicated that if one examines the early activities of the party it would become clear that PAM began its campaign for change by extending a helping hand to those most in need.
While providing a glimpse into the party’s history, Caines pointed out that a major milestone in the early stages of PAM was the “electricity” march that gained much recognition for the young political party. “The majority of the people in St Kitts then, as it is now, could ill afford to pay their electricity bills,” noted Caines.
In a party release shared with the media on Tuesday, 21st January, Caines is quoted as saying that a group of young men – the founders of the party and followers, at the time, saw the need to help the people of Nevis, who did not have any water. The young PAM men chartered a boat and filled up buckets/barrels of water and set sail to Nevis. This act of kindness was met with great appreciation, he added.
Caines made his remarks last Sunday, (19th January), when scores of members worshipped at the St. George Anglican Church in Basseterre.
Caines used his remarks to remind the congregation and the country of some of the other measures taken by his party while in office, and he spoke to initiatives designed to benefit everyone across the board – women, men, children, youth, the elderly and all social classes of the citizenry. He stated that PAM lived up to its motto, “Putting People First.” Some of the measures he highlighted included:
1. The Protection and improvement of the status of the children of unmarried mothers by the Independence Constitution and the Status of Children Act – The PAM Administration gave children born out of wedlock the right to carry their father’s name and to share in his estate
2. Establishing the Development Bank – Offering ‘soft’ loans and financial assistance to citizens
3. Providing ferry service between St Kitts/Nevis – to encourage partnership and commercial activities between both islands
4. Constructing a new school in St Paul’s and upgrading others
6. Reducing the age of legal majority from 21 to 18 – allowing 18 year olds to vote for the first time. PAM showed that the Youth had an integral role to play in nation building and decision making
The service was also attended by former Prime Minister, Sir Kennedy Simmonds, and Lady Simmonds, Michael Powell, Collin Pereira, current Political Leader Shawn Richards, Party Chairman Cyndie Demming and other executive members, former PAM candidates Vernon Veira, Louie Williams and Junie Hodge, in addition to scores of supporters. Leader of PLP and Team Unity,Dr Timothy Harris was in attendance to support PAM, a Unity partner.
The service was led by Father Chris Archibald who gave an inspiring sermon and asked the PAM to celebrate their 50th anniversary at his church; the St Georges Anglican Church.
The PAM was founded on 19th January, 1965 with William Valentine “Billy” Herbert as its first leader, along with Richard Caines, Michael Powell, Collin Pereira and Sir Kennedy Simmonds, and others.