Though he provided no evidence to support his claim, Dr. Douglas stated, “They want no development in that area. All they want the government to do is to fill potholes on the road.”
The charge was made even though it is known and acknowledged by the Labour Government, headed by Douglas, that it was a PAM Administration that took the initiative to build the road that was completed and opened in 1989.
A release from the Prime Minister’s Office stated that Opposition members Vincent Byron and Shawn Richards of the People’s Action Movement (PAM) disclosed that it is over EC$22 million that the PAM administration borrowed to build the road through the private property of land owners.
“After the PAM Administration built the road, there was no development, marketing or promotional plans for the South East Peninsula after the highway was completed in
1989. There was no serious marketing plan. It raises the question as to the reason why then Prime Minister Simmonds built a road, which later became known as the ‘road to nowhere.’ Peoples private properties were used to build the road without their permission and it was my government which had to settle those matters when we came into office in 1995,” said the Prime Minister pointing out there was also no proper drainage system in place.
“Sections of the road were built through the hills and huge boulders were left bare to threaten the lives of persons travelling along that route. There was also no maintenance plan in addition there was no marketing plan and no development plan and one wonders therefore the real motives for that road at the time,” said Dr. Douglas.
Wrapping up debate in the St. Kitts and Nevis National Assembly on The St. Christopher and Nevis (Stamps Amendment) Bill, 2011 which reduces from 14 percent and 18 and a half percent to 12 percent the stamp duty payable on the market value by the vendor or transferor in respect of conveyances or transfers of land or property to create the conditions for economic growth, Prime Minister Douglas said it is obvious that the opposition People’s Action Movement wants to see no development in that area.
“It is time for the people of St. Kitts and Nevis begin to benefit from that investment.” said Dr. Douglas, who noted that the legislation is aimed at stimulating economic growth and development.
He noted the action taken by government to prevent speculation of landowners who refused to develop for the benefit of the people of St. Kitts and Nevis.
“In developing the land it will generate employment opportunities during the period of construction and after development with hotels, restaurants and other amenities such as golf courses and marina,” said Dr. Douglas, who noted that for years after the road was constructed by the former PAM Administration, only sheep, goats and cows occupied the land.
“They (PAM opposition members) are now saying that the reason for maintaining the 18.5 percent is to fix the road, but when I came to this Parliament and we imposed the 18.5 percent tax for a completely different reason, they opposed it. They opposed it Mr. Speaker, and now today they are saying leave it up there,” said Dr Douglas.
“How are you going to get money to fix that road if the 18.5 percent is now a disincentive? We want to bring economic stimulus to the area. They said they spent EC$22 million 24 years ago and it is time the people begin to benefit from that investment” said Prime Minister Douglas, who pointed out that the only way this can be done is to allow the developers to have an even playing field.
Prime Minister Douglas said to attract new developers it was necessary to reduce the
18.5 percent to the 12 percent and disclosed that the Cabinet recently approved two new developments for the South East Peninsula.
“Mr. Speaker, we want continued development over on the South East Peninsula. They do not want any hotels over there. They are saying that in 15 years of their (PAM) Administration, no hotels were built and they are saying that under my Administration, none must be built and that is why they are opposing this legislative measure,” Dr. Douglas told the National Assembly.
However, the road was only in existence for approximately six (6) years during the PAM Administration, not 15 years as implied by the Prime Minister. After being opened in 1989, PAM remained in office until 1995.
During the six years under PAM, development in the area was stifled with the private land owners being accused of land speculation and in some cases an unwillingness to sell to would be investors. The government owned none of the land.