Presentation(Full Text) By Hon. Mark Brantley, On Budget, December 2014

It is a matter to me of great symbolism that I rise to speak precisely on the 2nd anniversary since I presented a Motion of No Confidence to the Clerk of this House seeking to have a debate as a matter of urgency to test the continued support of the elected majority in the leadership of the man who hitherto enjoyed a majority. My fellow Kittitians and Nevisians those on the other side have employed every artifice to evade and avoid the debate of that critical Motion.

Indeed, even after the High Court made it clear that the MONC was not sub judice and the Parliament was free to debate it, the other side postured still. Each and every one of us in this once hallowed hall today knows that this Government lacks the legitimacy born of the support of an elected majority. Each and every one of us must know that every action of this minority regime, indeed even this very Budget, can and may well be subjected to constitutional scrutiny once Team Unity restores some sense of decency and good government to our Nation.

I wish however for Hansard and the collective memories of our Nation to record that the elected majority in this Assembly has appealed to the Speaker; to His Excellency the Governor General; to the OECS; to CARICOM and to international Nations and organizations representing those Nations. Throughout, the people of St. Kitts and Nevis and the high ideals of democracy have been butchered on the altar of party political partisanship. Indeed, throughout this ordeal for our Nation, we heard only the voices of the Honourable Sir Lester Bird of Antigua and Barbuda; that of the Honourable Dr Keith Mitchell of Grenada, Cariacou and Petit Martinique; and that of my friend the Honourable Arnheim Eustace of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Alas, so hardened in the ways of the undemocratic that our region has become that no less a man than senior Caribbean statesman Dr Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines posited publicly that since there were no riots, insurrection and bloodletting by the elected majority then all was calm in St. Kitts and Nevis and there was no need for any intervention. Rather than celebrating the restraint of the elected majority therefore, some sought to condemn it as weakness.

I am here today to say that it takes greater strength to be good than to be evil. On every path in this life, the path of evil is always far easier. I take a moment therefore to commend the leadership of Team Unity for choosing to explore peaceful and democratic means to resolve this impasse rather than taking the path that Dr Gonsalves appeared to have espoused and which said path was immortalized by one sitting here today when he stated publicly and to much acclaim “Tell them I can incite you know. You remember 93? Tell them Douglas can incite you know. I incite already and I can incite again”.  I pause only to note that incitement was, is and continues to be a crime in St. Kitts and Nevis. I would wish fellow citizens and residents that when the history of our Nation is written, that no member of this elected majority is ever recorded with such sentiments whether in thought or in speech.

Throughout this constitutional crisis that has existed and that persist even today, only the Court has stood guard. As a lawyer of some 2 decades now I have never doubted the majesty of the law or the independence of our Courts. When an unpopular Government in my beloved Nevis sought to foist itself like an unwanted lover on the Nevisian populace by wholesale disenfranchisement of our fellow Nevisians, it is the Court to which the rightful leadership of Nevis turned for assistance. Whilst on that fateful day the thousands of protesters stood outside the gates of the ETW Park in Nevis militant and ready to fight with their hands for that which had been taken from them. Indeed, even as one here sitting today went gleefully to that Park to shout to his hapless and hopeless friends in Nevis, “Eeee ah wuk”. The Honourable member for Nevis 10 raised his hand majestically in the air like Moses of old and said “Let us away from this place. Let us leave in peace”. And so it was spoken my friends and so it was done.

That my friends is what we call leadership. That is what real leaders do. They do not incite and invite their freedom fighters to burn and pillage the very country they claim to love. Nay, they stand as Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr and indeed as Jesus Christ himself did and they advocate peace.

The restraint exhibited by Team Unity over this most difficult period in our history has to be applauded and celebrated. History my friends, will be kind to you. You have chosen the difficult and sometimes winding path of good, the path of peace over the easy and wide path of evil and destruction.

And so the Courts of this land have stood as the only guardian of our democracy whilst all other State institutions failed. I have seen so many with lofty titles and holding immense constitutional and parliamentary authority opt to support their Party over the democratic ideals of our country. But they too will be judged by history.

And so here I now stand on the eve, as we all know, of an election. The Honourable mover of this Budget who read it historically twice as a Resolution and then as a Bill, well knows that his time in the check-out lounge is at hand. His polls have told him so. His pundits and soothsayers have told him so. More importantly our people have told him so. And so as the fear of imminent defeat creeps inexorably up the backs of many, we now see all the signs of desperation setting in. Desperate measures by those desperately seeking to convince you to yet repose trust and confidence in them. I ask you to change course before it is too late. I ask you to rally with a team that has demonstrated the maturity of putting aside historical differences for the common good. I ask you to rally with the only team that can heal this Nation and give the peoples of St. Kitts and Nevis a real chance to share equally the burdens and the benefits of their nationhood.

But I warn now that it will not be easy. No one imbued with power for so long and who now lusts after it even more, will surrender it willingly. The gimmicks and the tricks will increase now and until January 26th which I hear is Election Day. There will be giveaways galore. Music and food and jump up. Indeed some have predicted that St. Kitts might well see Michael Jackson, Bob Marley and Elvis Pressley resurrected and on stage as the politically dead seek help even from those long dead.

But I exhort you to fear not. In the words of Deuteronomy 31:6, “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”

My friends it was the Psalmist David who reminds us at Psalm 23 that:

Yea, though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we will fear no evil: for thou art with us; thy rod and thy staff they comfort us.

Thou preparest a table before us in the presence of our enemies: thou anointest our heads with oil; our cups runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow us all the days of our lives: and we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

And so my friends, here we are today. Some may ask why did Team Unity come after taking an historic and principled position that it will not by its members’ attendance in this House legitimize the illegitimate? I say to you today that we have come today only after much consultation, prayer and reflection. We have come because we wish our young Nation to know that we afford them an alternative to what they have seen and now know. We have come to show in word and in deed a contrast so stark between what is and what can be that our people will be better positioned to make a choice. We have come to say unto you our people that Unity represents a paradigm shift in governance modeling for our country. It forces all sides to consult and to govern by consultation and consensus. The old days of elected dictatorship are now over. Our Nation has seen the Maximum Leader at work and prefers a Servant in Chief instead. We usher in a new dawn, a new beginning, a new hope for our beloved country.

And what have we heard from this budget. Surpluses we hear. Ah that sweet sounding word. Every Government wishes to record and report on surpluses. Every Government wishes to reduce its debt. In Nevis we know all too well what reckless debt accumulation can do to damage an economy’s prospects. The mover of the budget need only ask his coalition partners in Nevis who picked up where he himself left off in reckless debt accumulation. So whilst the picture my friends is rosy and the Honourable mover of the budget thumps his chest announcing his financial acumen to the world, perhaps it might be sensible to take a moment and reflect from whence we came and who it is that put this once majestic ocean liner called St. Kitts and Nevis in the titanic financial crisis in the first place.

Yesterday I heard of the debt being over $2 billion and now being reduced by over 30%. Commendable to be sure if that stifling debt had been inherited by the Honourable mover of the Bill. Alas No. It was not inherited. It was created by him and his reckless Administration.

Now let us examine the fiscal acumen of which he now boasts. I frame my argument thus. If I am indebted to Peter in the amount of $1000 and I rob Paul and pay Peter his $1000 should I be celebrated or vilified? We have taken from Peter to pay Paul. In Brown Hill we call that “tief”. But for this minority Government they call it genius.

Kittitians and Nevisians we hear boasting about recovery but we ignore the pain inflicted on our people. At what price this much vaunted recovery? You and I and every other citizen and resident were slapped with a 17% VAT, the then highest in the region. Nearly everything and certainly everyone was affected. Indeed, my friends, even the dead were not immune as VAT was payable on funeral services. The VAT has in my humble estimation pushed more people below the poverty line than any other fiscal measure undertaken by this minority Government. Team Unity has pledged to remove all VAT on food and medicines. So guess what? Having no ideas of his own, the mover of the budget has now announced that he will remove VAT from some foods and medicines. That my friends is called plagiarism not innovation. Already Unity is demonstrating who leads and who follows.

But it was not just 17% VAT. No, walk with me a little down memory lane. Those who invested in Government securities were forced to take a haircut. So if you invested $1000 overnight you were told that your hard earned investment had been reduced to half and that the interest payable had also been reduced and further that you could now expect payment only over a term of several decades. The losses to major institutions such as Social Security and National Bank were significant. But more significant were the losses to the ordinary man and woman who had invested with this Government on the assumption that the full faith and credit of St. Kitts and Nevis under Labour/NRP meant something. I am advised that not even our Churches were spared. The mover of the Bill calls it restructuring but some see it as highway robbery.

But it did not end there. Users of electricity in St. Kitts saw a massive increase in electricity rates of some 83% all at once. We all know that the cost of electricity is a major component of business expense so the knock on impact on the economy and the cost of living must have been significant. Not only that but what of the single mother in McKnight or St Peters? What of the grandmother or pensioner? None were spared the wrath of this effor

Social Services Levy was increased. The cost of various services were increased. Even departure taxes at RLB doubled. Our people were plunged into hardship, woe and misery.

And so now we must celebrate with you who put us in that misery? This reminds me of someone who subjects you to intolerable torture, pain and suffering but then says to you, I have now stopped torturing you so you should be proud of me. You should applaud me. You should put me back in a position of power where I can well torture you again.

No my friends, if you rob even the Church so that you can now boast of fiscal sobriety, you are not genius. You are dishonest.

But let us not also forget the land for debt swap hatched by the mover of the bill and his hapless cohorts in Nevis who then illegally occupied the seat of Government there. Having recklessly run up the debt to unsustainable and unmanageable levels on both sides of the Narrows, the plan was hatched to bargain away the people’s patrimony, their land to pay for the debt. Lands that were acquired by Sir Robert Llewellyn Bradshaw and paid for by Dr. Kennedy Simmonds were “poofed” away by Bradshaw’s reckless Godson.

The land for debt swap is a most bitter pill to swallow. In Nevis, a new caring CCM Government met a mountain of debt, a land for debt swap already well advanced and a hostile banker doing the bidding of the Government in Basseterre rather than what is prudent and sensible as a banker. In Nevis we were not afforded even the courtesy as a new Government of discussing alternatives. We well understood that this was more about politics than nationhood and little Nevis was caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. But leadership sometimes has to take difficult decisions especially when surrounded by political hostility. In Nevis therefore this Government was forced to accept a land for debt arrangement which we continue to feel is a bad recipe for long-term national development. I am prepared to wager that the hundreds of acres “poofed” away for debt will never return to Kittitian and Nevisian hands. Nay, the colonial phenomenon of landlessness inflicted upon our people by our colonizers is now to be inflicted again upon our people by the esteemed financial genius, the member for number 6.

And so for the much vaunted economic turnaround being touted, the truth is that what has really allowed us this change in fortunes is the seemingly never ending cash cow which has become our Citizenship by Investment Programme.

Indeed, as I attended the last IMF assessment report, the IMF Chief pointed out that traditional tax revenues in the country were flat. In local parlance that means that the traditional economy was not growing. The IMF attributed the upswing in St. Kitts decisively to the CBI programme. Yesterday we learnt from the mover of the Bill that in passport processing fees alone under this programme St. Kitts received over $270 million in the last fiscal year.

In addition to these hundreds of millions, the SIDF which has become a parallel Government with no parliamentary oversight, no control by the Director of Audit and no access to information even to the Prime Minister according to his statements in this very Assembly, has funded nearly every aspect of recent Kittitian life. From direct budgetary support, to tourism promotion to airlift to hotel construction to SKELEC subsidies to REACH to YES to PEP, the SIDF has become the Government in a very real sense. Yet we are told it is private. The phenomenon of a private entity collecting monies for the sale of a public asset, our passport, is a matter which defies logic and common sense. The affairs of the SIDF are as opaque as the darkest night. Our prospects of ever accessing full information about its activities are as remote as Senator Carty ever contesting a seat.

Let us look at some numbers and the budget and national implications.

SKN – CBI Processing Fees – Budget Implications

2014 estimates

2013

estimates

2013 projected

Difference

2013 estimate  to projected

2012 actual

Total Recurrent revenue

517,394,195

464,379,444

663,562,804

+199,183,360

531,615,250

CBI processing income

100,000,000

70,000,000

247,570,375

+177,570,375

141,002,887

Total Recurrent expenditure

447,153,518

409,283,516

426,979,742

+17,696,226

430,358,389

Current account surplus

70,240,677

55,086,928

236,583,062

+181,496,134

101,256,851

NOTE: The costs associated with CBI processing are listed as $21m EC in 2013 and $8m EC in 2012

Budget Discipline

Estimate for Recurrent Expenditure in year

Actual Recurrent expenditure in year

Overspend

2013

409,283,316

426,979,742

+4%

2012

400,920,309

430,358,309

+7%

2011

401,319,304

483,933,751

+20%

2010

430.030,842

507,194,460

+18%

 

KEY POINTS

·         Without CBI processing revenues SKN accounts would be in deficit in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

·         CBI processing revenues account for 98% of the improvement in the surplus recorded in 2013.

·         In 2013 CBI processing revenues now make up 37% of total recurrent revenue

·         The financial discipline has exceedingly been poor overspending estimates on recurrent expenditure every year           for the past 4 years.

·         Stripping out the CBI revenue the record of budget management has not been a good one.

·         The real way to look at this is to discount the Citizenship processing income.  In this case we have a consistent           level of negative performance from this administration.

POLITICAL ISSUES

·         Income from citizenship processing has now grown to make up 40% of our total revenue income. In 2012 it was just over 20%. If we look at all other revenue streams from customs duties to land taxes etc – the picture is of static if not declining totals whilst the expenditure needs of our public services not least in health, crime and education continue to grow apace. This administration has taken their eye off the ball of revenue generation because they felt they could always fall back on Passport revenue. There has been a lack of discipline here and too many tax exemptions given to overseas developers and others. By contrast in Nevis the CCM administration without the cushion of passport incomes has grown revenues by over 7% in the past year.

·         SKN is highly vulnerable on Passport integrity being sustained as the importance of CBI processing income has             grown each year.

·         Anything that puts at risk the SKN Passport integrity and so CBI revenues puts at risk the public services of S                SKN

·         This is a budget that leaves our public services dangerously reliant on passport incomes that are now seriously             at risk because of the actions of this minority administration.

·         This is a budget that – unless the underlying revenue issues are addressed and we regain our international                   credibility – will unravel very quickly in the near term.

·         In short I would argue that the longer this discredited administration continues in office, the greater the risk to             the credibility of our citizenship, the greater the risk that taxes will have to be raised or new ones introduced               and public services cut to make up for the loss of the citizenship revenues this administration has made us so               reliant on.

International Risks

And yet this same Labour/NRP regime has taken a number of deliberate actions that have undermined the credibility of our CBI programme. The goose that has been laying the golden egg is systematically being mismanaged to death.

Now let us keep the CBI in perspective. It was introduced by the government of Dr Kennedy Simmonds. What this Government has done to introduce the SIDF and ever more exotic forms of acquiring the SKN passport. The rapid expansion and commercialization of the SKN passport accounts for the surpluses now being boasted about but this approach has also led to many undesirables getting their hands on our passports. Enter Mr Moghadam who showed up in Canada not just with an SKN passport but with a diplomatic passport. He lies to Canadian border officials triggering an understandable response from Canada, our dear friend and ally. To this day the Nation does not know if Moghadam is still our fellow citizen and more importantly our diplomat. But if claims that he paid US$1 million for his diplomatic passport are true, then perhaps he now cannot be stripped of that million dollar privilege.

At some point in 2012 the genius from number 6 decided to remove the place of birth from the SKN passport. In addition no previous names of the holder were now to be included. Put differently, an Iranian or Libyan could now come here and change their name and get our passport in their new name with no place of birth. I cannot think of a greater recipe for abuse than this reckless action.

In mid-2013 the Honourable mover of the Bill announced that no more Iranians or Afghans would be permitted to access the CBI programme. Yet 10 months later the United States Government through FINCEN issued a scathing advisory which stated in part that notwithstanding those assurances, Iranians were still accessing the SKN passport. Moreover these “illicit actors” were abusing our passports to evade US sanctions.

This was followed by the esteemed Press Secretary and chief propagandist for this outgoing regime publicly stating that the place of birth had been removed from the SKN passport at the behest of the US government. The US took the unprecedented step of issuing a formal statement denying that this was the case. Put differently, this regime had lied on the US Government.

The Canadians were upset. The US was upset but this reckless regime continued merrily dishing out passports to as many Libyans, Iraqis, Syrians, Egyptians, Saudis, Pakistanis and now Nigerians they could find.

The reaction from Canada was predictable albeit truly lamentable. They have slapped Visa requirements on SKN passport holders whilst removing such requirements from Chileans on the same day. Their concerns were clearly with the CBI programme and they said so. You, I and every other passport holder from SKN will now pay the price. Our days of waltzing into Canada are over.

The response now that the horse has bolted down Belmont Park? Our esteemed Minister of Foreign Affairs and my fellow Nevisian now declares that all passports issued since 2012 without place of birth and without previous names noted will be recalled and replaced. We are not told how many passports but the estimates are over 20,000. More troubling is that it has been decreed that this must be done by January 31st or the old passport will be null and void. Mark you this is after the same Minister of Foreign Affairs assured you and I and the entire Nation on or about Nov 26th, 2013 in this very Assembly that our visa free access to Canada was not at risk and our removal of the place of birth was entirely consistent with international law. The Honourable gentleman either misspoke terribly or worse yet sought to mislead us all. Whatever the position, every tut mum sam and baggai in St. Kitts and Nevis must now pay the cruel price of seeing our visa free access to a decades old friend in Canada removed.

What I want the Nation to ponder however is that to date our people have not been told why the place of birth and previous names of the passport holder were removed from the St. Kitts Nevis passport in the first place. We have not been told at all at whose behest and for whose benefit these radical departures from passport security norms regionally and internationally were made. Was it to help Iranian and Syrians travel more easily? Well when the Honourable mover of the bill and the Honourable Foreign Minister was busy looking after the Iranians and the Syrians who was looking after the people from Sandy Point and Church Ground?

I believe that the evidence is clear that neither the US nor Canada trusts this minority regime. They do not believe that in Basseterre they have a reliable partner which is serious about international relations and maintaining the safety and security of their borders. I fear that no amount of changes now that the horse has bolted will satisfy major Western Government who clearly have NO CONFIDENCE in this Douglas regime.

Our Nation needs a fresh start with persons who have the necessary political capital and goodwill to rebuild trust and confidence with our allies around the world. Team Unity offers itself as that fresh start. Let us move beyond this dark period in our history with renewed hope and a clear vision for the future of our young Nation.

 Let us shed the baggage and permit our people once again to feel proud of this the land of their birth and their ancestry. The writing is on the wall. The evidence is clear. The time my friends is now.

NEVIS IMPLICATIONS

·Nevis is not getting any share of CBI processing revenue – despite generating many CBI real estate schemes and contributing significantly to the attraction of the Passport.

·Just taking Tamarind Cove – this has generated an estimated nearly $6m EC in CBI revenue for St. Kitts. Little Nevis gets zero.

Yet the bitter pill that my fellow Nevisians must now swallow that despite the fact that the CBI proceeds are guarded jealously for use in St. Kitts and only St. Kitts, the people of Nevis must now suffer the same expense and inconvenience of having to seek new passports and having to obtain visas to travel to Canada. Just a few days ago, I received a frantic call from a mother whose daughter, a university student, was to spend her Christmas holidays in Canada with relatives. Alas now she must seek a visa. That entails sending her passport with birth certificate, invitation letter from her relatives in Canada, police report and prof of financial support and of course paying the cost of obtaining the Canadian visa with absolutely no guarantee that the Visa will be granted. The people of Nevis will not forget nor forgive this gross insult to them.

I take some time now then to look at the Nevis situation.

It is an open secret that this great CCM Party which I am privileged to be a member of was not the Party chosen by our little friend from number 6 to lead Nevis. Sadly, he has a habit of misunderstanding the Nevisian people and misread the chatter of the once proud NRP Party for real support among the electorate. The results of the 2013 election having been correctly seen as a rebuff to him and his chosen party by the Nevisian electorate and since then every available effort has been made to attack, vilify and embarrass the lawfully elected Government of Nevis.

I set out but a snapshot below:

· Prior to the CCM gaining office, the previously led NIA received some modicum of budgetary support from the Federal Government from its own receipts of support from the SIDF. This was only right and proper since the SIDF monies derive from the sale of a St. Kitts AND Nevis asset, our passport. However immediately upon the voters of Nevis electing a CCM Government, that budgetary support immediately stopped.

· Prior to the CCM gaining office the PEP programme had been started and was being run in Nevis through the Ministry of Social Affairs. Immediately upon the electorate voting for the CCM government of their choice, the PEP was said to be private and was moved out of Social Affairs and put into a rented building in Charlestown. Yet in St. Kitts I am advised that the PEP is administered through the Government here. It is therefore private in Nevis but government run in St. Kitts.

·The $20 million TBill issued by the previous NRP led NIA had been guaranteed each and every year by the Federal Government. Suddenly, the people elected CCM and the guarantee was refused forcing little Nevis to default. Thank God however that with the prudent leadership of the Honourable member for number 10 and the Grace of God, the NIA has satisfied the holders of that NIA security and none have had to take a haircut.

·Nevis civil servants cheques were dishonoured by the National Bank who suddenly discovered that the official overdraft limit of the NIA was $50 million when they had allowed their friends in NRP to run it up to $65 million, convert that to a long term loan and run it back up to $65 million again all in the space of less than 3 years. But this new CCM led NIA was to be punished. And oh how they laughed and rejoiced at the misfortune of their fellow citizens in Nevis. Mine you, all this time collecting hundreds of millions in passport processing fees and SIDF budgetary support whilst Nevis gets not a penny.

· Major projects in Nevis have been delayed and given the run around for CBI approval for months whilst on St. Kitts new CBI projects were being approved and breaking ground at breakneck pace. These investments could have done much to push Nevis ahead in the past 2 years. Instead the artificial picture was created that somehow investment was not also willing, ready and able to flow into Nevis.

·Even recently, the Honourable mover of the bill appeared in Nevis with a bevy of his supporters in tow numbering 110 to be precise plus the usual platoon of security personnel. They came purportedly to have a conversation with Nevisians about progress. But the lawfully elected Government of Nevis was neither invited nor advised. One young woman clad beautifully in blue asked why her representative the Honourable Mark Anthony Graham Brantley was not invited only to be roundly castigated, heckled and cursed out by this rent a crowd brought to peaceful Nevis for that very purpose. Disrespect for the Nevisian people of the highest order.

·More recently 2 members of the other side showed up at an NIA run High School in Nevis to hand out laptops without first advising the Premier and Minister of Education in Nevis or Nevis education officials. The same speed they came they were sent packing. I am told they will now return having satisfied proper protocol.

 

The point here is that the people of Nevis have a Government chosen by them in a landslide popular vote. There may be some in Basseterre aggrieved that they backed a dead green horse in Nevis instead of the raging blue stallion. But that must not and cannot become an excuse for the continued disrespect and vitriolic attacks on the lawfully and legitimately elected Government of the people of Nevis.

So all who blue vex let them know that the Concerned Citizens Movement is here and here to stay and they will be blue vex for a long time.

But whilst they have schemed and plotted the demise of this great CCM Party in Government here is a snapshot of what has been achieved with no passport monies:

·         7% growth in revenue in 2013

·         18.7% increase in tourism from 2013 to now

·         Free electricity and water to our senior citizens 65 and over living on their own with no or fixed income

·         Entire city of Charlestown now secured by CCTV (and let me pause to thank the Government and people of the Republic of China on Taiwan for their help) making Charlestown the first city in the OECS so covered by CCTV

·         Completion of the major Hamilton Road at a cost saving of over $2 million plus the construction or rehabilitation of secondary roads all over the island.

·         Constructed a playing field at Zion for cricket and football and other sporting activities

·         Saw the start of the expansion of Mount Nevis Hotel, the tremendous expansion in construction at Four Seasons Resort Estates, the initial phase of the Butlers Resort and Residences, and in the next several days the start of the Paradise Palms and Candy Resort projects.

·         The resumption of airlift to the VAI airport moving capacity from our major hub of San Juan from 14 seats per               day to 100 seats per day.

·         Moving cruise ship calls from 34 last year to 68 this year

·         Investing in training of our young people sending off just over 40 in the last 2 years with full or partial                           assistance to study different disciplines.

·         Purchasing new state of the art ventilator and anaesthesia machines for the Alexandra hospital, the first                       ventilator purchased since 1994.

·         Accessing 3 school buses for the children of Nevis with 1 to be delivered this week and the others in the New               Year.

·         25% reduction in the fuel surcharge since January 2013 long before SKELEC followed suit

·         10% salary cut for all Ministers of the NIA since taking office until now.

·         Refurbishment of public squares in Charlestown and the Hunkins Drive transforming it into the Boulevard of                   Flags to welcome our guests and non-nationals living with us in harmony

·         Liberalizing work permits so that the practice of harassing non Nationals has been brought to an end leading to             a more harmonious Nevisian society.

·         Securing transportation of the Nevis division of the Police

·         Purchase of 2 brand new fogging machines for the island

·         Introduced radiation therapy for cancer treatment at our local hospital

·         Transformed agriculture with reintroduction of onion production and greater use of shade houses

·         Saw the creation of over 400 jobs in the past 2 years

·         Mortgage relief for affordable home buyers allowing them to save tens of thousands and secure title to their homes now instead of in 30 years.

Friends, can you imagine achieving these and more with all the hostility directed at us? Can you imagine how Nevis could have been transformed even more if it had even a notional share of the hundreds of millions of dollars pouring into Basseterre from the sale of our joint passport?

In Nevis we have committed strong leadership that is trustworthy and reliable. The people know it, and even here in Basseterre I am sure in fleeting moments of honesty the good mover of the Bill must grudgingly admit that despite his best efforts, Nevis is moving positively and purposefully in the right direction.

I take a moment now to raise a burning issue affecting the former workers of Lime in Nevis and others. Many were made redundant and offered packages as Lime restructured its operations. To date years later none have received their severance payments. Appeals by them have fallen on deaf ears. I wonder if others who similarly took packages from Lime have received their severance whilst the poor workers in Nevis suffer. I would want people like my friend and brother MB and my family Lester Liburd and my constituent and friend Hugh Martin and all the others to know that paying them their monies will be the first order of business for the next Unity Government. Imagine my good friends Lindo and Dave Allen have died waiting for that money and still nothing. This is grossly unfair when others much better off collected their severance payments. Relief is coming in the New Year for them. This minority Government has abandoned them. I pledge to them today that Unity will not abandon them.

Also for all the chatter about surpluses, the hardworking men and women at the Prison Farm in Nevis have been without transport now for 67 long days. What God forbids will happen if there is an emergency there?  

I speak briefly now on crime. All development is pointless unless our people feel safe in their homes and their businesses. Whilst we hear glib assurances that crime is down, the reality is that violent crime particularly murder continue to be at an all-time high with us registering 22 murders thus far for the year. What is even more deeply troubling is that hardly any are being detected and criminals brought to justice. The system is broken and empty platitudes will not fix it. We cannot continue to allow murder and mayhem to occur without consequences. When criminals can assassinate someone right in front of the Basseterre Police Station in a hail of bullets it tells us that crime is truly out of control and the criminals have no respect for the Police or for the system of justice. Whilst the Nation has been subjected to puerile statements and bombast from a Commissioner who knows only how to berate officers in Nevis while talking nonsense about having criminals in St. Kitts on the run. The balloon that was squeezed is now squeezing all of us. 

I say from this rostrum today that it is time for us to swallow our pride and request outside help to investigate and bring to justice these murderers in our midst. The NIA has repeatedly asked for the invitation of the FBI, Scotland Yard or even the RCMP to be brought in to assist with these files and in particular with the case of missing teen in Nevis Dillon Clarke and others. We have been repeatedly told by the Police leadership that no such help is necessary.

This is a budget that is politically tactical when it should be strategic – It offers very little new to address the problems of crime, job creation, community cohesion and greater sharing of resources between St. Kitts and Nevis.

This is a budget that lacks discipline and treats the public finances as if in the gift of one man – when we cannot afford lax controls and we cannot afford to continue this culture of dependence and patronage.

Time and time again the world’s history is littered with examples of political leaders outstaying their welcome. They become surrounded by people who dare not challenge them and worst of all they stop questioning themselves – they believe they are always right and their response to any problem is to take more power to themselves.

I want to wish to people of District 9 who have sent me here, the people of Nevis and the people of the Federation a happy Christmas season and a bright and hopeful New Year.

I congratulate young Chloe Williams our 1014 State Scholar and note for the record that the top 4 students for CAPE this year are all from Nevis. I also congratulate Kimmie Lee Knight, whose mother is my fellow Brown Hillian, for the best results at the CSEC level and my own daughter Brianna Brantley for the best CSEC results in Nevis.

To my people in Nevis I say to you that it’s time to allow Nevis to speak with one powerful voice in Basseterre: 9, 10 and 11. All Three. Send us to Church Street to sit at the table for you not as mendicants with cap in hand but as equal citizens of this country entitled to bear their equal share of the burden and reap their equal share of the benefits of this great Nation.

As CCM, you have seen us at work. You know you can trust us. We say what we mean and mean what we say. You have seen the open hostility of this minority Government towards us in Nevis. Imagine being hostile to Nevis while 2 born and bred Nevisians, the members for numbers 1 and 11, sit among their number. Yet here we stand Strong, Resolute, Nevisian. 

Our country has had 2 Prime Ministers since Independence. It has had a coalition Government of PAM/NRP from 1980 to 1995. It now has another coalition in Labour/NRP from 2010 until now. Never before did any PM interfere in the internal politics of Nevis until now. The Statesman Dr Simmonds whilst in coalition with NRP never sought to punish CCM or the people of Nevis for electing them. He understood that he as Prime Minister had to work with whomever the people of Nevis elected.

But this minority PM has sought to interfere directly and indirectly in the local political affairs of Nevis. He stood in this very House and declared he will keep Nevis green. He was rebuffed in Nevis in 2010, 2011 and 2013 and will again be rebuffed in 2015. I have asked him to stay out of Nevis’ local political business but such is the arrogance that he feels he can dictate to proud Nevisians who should lead them.

I am here today to serve notice to the Nation and to remind all those who have ears to hear that St Pauls, St. Kitts and St Pauls, Nevis are 2 different St Pauls.

I wish all members in this House a blessed Christmas. For those who shall not return in the New Year I bid you adieu. For those who will, the CCM looks forward to working with you as we restore decency and good governance to our beloved Nation. Team Unity is ready, willing and able to lead. Ladies and gentlemen. Kittitians and Nevisians. IT’S TIME.






 

 

 

Presentation(Full Text) By Hon. Mark Brantley, On Budget, December 2014

It is a matter to me of great symbolism that I rise to speak precisely on the 2nd anniversary since I presented a Motion of No Confidence to the Clerk of this House seeking to have a debate as a matter of urgency to test the continued support of the elected majority in the leadership of the man who hitherto enjoyed a majority. My fellow Kittitians and Nevisians those on the other side have employed every artifice to evade and avoid the debate of that critical Motion.

Indeed, even after the High Court made it clear that the MONC was not sub judice and the Parliament was free to debate it, the other side postured still. Each and every one of us in this once hallowed hall today knows that this Government lacks the legitimacy born of the support of an elected majority. Each and every one of us must know that every action of this minority regime, indeed even this very Budget, can and may well be subjected to constitutional scrutiny once Team Unity restores some sense of decency and good government to our Nation.

I wish however for Hansard and the collective memories of our Nation to record that the elected majority in this Assembly has appealed to the Speaker; to His Excellency the Governor General; to the OECS; to CARICOM and to international Nations and organizations representing those Nations. Throughout, the people of St. Kitts and Nevis and the high ideals of democracy have been butchered on the altar of party political partisanship. Indeed, throughout this ordeal for our Nation, we heard only the voices of the Honourable Sir Lester Bird of Antigua and Barbuda; that of the Honourable Dr Keith Mitchell of Grenada, Cariacou and Petit Martinique; and that of my friend the Honourable Arnheim Eustace of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Alas, so hardened in the ways of the undemocratic that our region has become that no less a man than senior Caribbean statesman Dr Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines posited publicly that since there were no riots, insurrection and bloodletting by the elected majority then all was calm in St. Kitts and Nevis and there was no need for any intervention. Rather than celebrating the restraint of the elected majority therefore, some sought to condemn it as weakness.

I am here today to say that it takes greater strength to be good than to be evil. On every path in this life, the path of evil is always far easier. I take a moment therefore to commend the leadership of Team Unity for choosing to explore peaceful and democratic means to resolve this impasse rather than taking the path that Dr Gonsalves appeared to have espoused and which said path was immortalized by one sitting here today when he stated publicly and to much acclaim “Tell them I can incite you know. You remember 93? Tell them Douglas can incite you know. I incite already and I can incite again”.  I pause only to note that incitement was, is and continues to be a crime in St. Kitts and Nevis. I would wish fellow citizens and residents that when the history of our Nation is written, that no member of this elected majority is ever recorded with such sentiments whether in thought or in speech.

Throughout this constitutional crisis that has existed and that persist even today, only the Court has stood guard. As a lawyer of some 2 decades now I have never doubted the majesty of the law or the independence of our Courts. When an unpopular Government in my beloved Nevis sought to foist itself like an unwanted lover on the Nevisian populace by wholesale disenfranchisement of our fellow Nevisians, it is the Court to which the rightful leadership of Nevis turned for assistance. Whilst on that fateful day the thousands of protesters stood outside the gates of the ETW Park in Nevis militant and ready to fight with their hands for that which had been taken from them. Indeed, even as one here sitting today went gleefully to that Park to shout to his hapless and hopeless friends in Nevis, “Eeee ah wuk”. The Honourable member for Nevis 10 raised his hand majestically in the air like Moses of old and said “Let us away from this place. Let us leave in peace”. And so it was spoken my friends and so it was done.

That my friends is what we call leadership. That is what real leaders do. They do not incite and invite their freedom fighters to burn and pillage the very country they claim to love. Nay, they stand as Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr and indeed as Jesus Christ himself did and they advocate peace.

The restraint exhibited by Team Unity over this most difficult period in our history has to be applauded and celebrated. History my friends, will be kind to you. You have chosen the difficult and sometimes winding path of good, the path of peace over the easy and wide path of evil and destruction.

And so the Courts of this land have stood as the only guardian of our democracy whilst all other State institutions failed. I have seen so many with lofty titles and holding immense constitutional and parliamentary authority opt to support their Party over the democratic ideals of our country. But they too will be judged by history.

And so here I now stand on the eve, as we all know, of an election. The Honourable mover of this Budget who read it historically twice as a Resolution and then as a Bill, well knows that his time in the check-out lounge is at hand. His polls have told him so. His pundits and soothsayers have told him so. More importantly our people have told him so. And so as the fear of imminent defeat creeps inexorably up the backs of many, we now see all the signs of desperation setting in. Desperate measures by those desperately seeking to convince you to yet repose trust and confidence in them. I ask you to change course before it is too late. I ask you to rally with a team that has demonstrated the maturity of putting aside historical differences for the common good. I ask you to rally with the only team that can heal this Nation and give the peoples of St. Kitts and Nevis a real chance to share equally the burdens and the benefits of their nationhood.

But I warn now that it will not be easy. No one imbued with power for so long and who now lusts after it even more, will surrender it willingly. The gimmicks and the tricks will increase now and until January 26th which I hear is Election Day. There will be giveaways galore. Music and food and jump up. Indeed some have predicted that St. Kitts might well see Michael Jackson, Bob Marley and Elvis Pressley resurrected and on stage as the politically dead seek help even from those long dead.

But I exhort you to fear not. In the words of Deuteronomy 31:6, “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”

My friends it was the Psalmist David who reminds us at Psalm 23 that:

Yea, though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we will fear no evil: for thou art with us; thy rod and thy staff they comfort us.

Thou preparest a table before us in the presence of our enemies: thou anointest our heads with oil; our cups runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow us all the days of our lives: and we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

And so my friends, here we are today. Some may ask why did Team Unity come after taking an historic and principled position that it will not by its members’ attendance in this House legitimize the illegitimate? I say to you today that we have come today only after much consultation, prayer and reflection. We have come because we wish our young Nation to know that we afford them an alternative to what they have seen and now know. We have come to show in word and in deed a contrast so stark between what is and what can be that our people will be better positioned to make a choice. We have come to say unto you our people that Unity represents a paradigm shift in governance modeling for our country. It forces all sides to consult and to govern by consultation and consensus. The old days of elected dictatorship are now over. Our Nation has seen the Maximum Leader at work and prefers a Servant in Chief instead. We usher in a new dawn, a new beginning, a new hope for our beloved country.

And what have we heard from this budget. Surpluses we hear. Ah that sweet sounding word. Every Government wishes to record and report on surpluses. Every Government wishes to reduce its debt. In Nevis we know all too well what reckless debt accumulation can do to damage an economy’s prospects. The mover of the budget need only ask his coalition partners in Nevis who picked up where he himself left off in reckless debt accumulation. So whilst the picture my friends is rosy and the Honourable mover of the budget thumps his chest announcing his financial acumen to the world, perhaps it might be sensible to take a moment and reflect from whence we came and who it is that put this once majestic ocean liner called St. Kitts and Nevis in the titanic financial crisis in the first place.

Yesterday I heard of the debt being over $2 billion and now being reduced by over 30%. Commendable to be sure if that stifling debt had been inherited by the Honourable mover of the Bill. Alas No. It was not inherited. It was created by him and his reckless Administration.

Now let us examine the fiscal acumen of which he now boasts. I frame my argument thus. If I am indebted to Peter in the amount of $1000 and I rob Paul and pay Peter his $1000 should I be celebrated or vilified? We have taken from Peter to pay Paul. In Brown Hill we call that “tief”. But for this minority Government they call it genius.

Kittitians and Nevisians we hear boasting about recovery but we ignore the pain inflicted on our people. At what price this much vaunted recovery? You and I and every other citizen and resident were slapped with a 17% VAT, the then highest in the region. Nearly everything and certainly everyone was affected. Indeed, my friends, even the dead were not immune as VAT was payable on funeral services. The VAT has in my humble estimation pushed more people below the poverty line than any other fiscal measure undertaken by this minority Government. Team Unity has pledged to remove all VAT on food and medicines. So guess what? Having no ideas of his own, the mover of the budget has now announced that he will remove VAT from some foods and medicines. That my friends is called plagiarism not innovation. Already Unity is demonstrating who leads and who follows.

But it was not just 17% VAT. No, walk with me a little down memory lane. Those who invested in Government securities were forced to take a haircut. So if you invested $1000 overnight you were told that your hard earned investment had been reduced to half and that the interest payable had also been reduced and further that you could now expect payment only over a term of several decades. The losses to major institutions such as Social Security and National Bank were significant. But more significant were the losses to the ordinary man and woman who had invested with this Government on the assumption that the full faith and credit of St. Kitts and Nevis under Labour/NRP meant something. I am advised that not even our Churches were spared. The mover of the Bill calls it restructuring but some see it as highway robbery.

But it did not end there. Users of electricity in St. Kitts saw a massive increase in electricity rates of some 83% all at once. We all know that the cost of electricity is a major component of business expense so the knock on impact on the economy and the cost of living must have been significant. Not only that but what of the single mother in McKnight or St Peters? What of the grandmother or pensioner? None were spared the wrath of this effor

Social Services Levy was increased. The cost of various services were increased. Even departure taxes at RLB doubled. Our people were plunged into hardship, woe and misery.

And so now we must celebrate with you who put us in that misery? This reminds me of someone who subjects you to intolerable torture, pain and suffering but then says to you, I have now stopped torturing you so you should be proud of me. You should applaud me. You should put me back in a position of power where I can well torture you again.

No my friends, if you rob even the Church so that you can now boast of fiscal sobriety, you are not genius. You are dishonest.

But let us not also forget the land for debt swap hatched by the mover of the bill and his hapless cohorts in Nevis who then illegally occupied the seat of Government there. Having recklessly run up the debt to unsustainable and unmanageable levels on both sides of the Narrows, the plan was hatched to bargain away the people’s patrimony, their land to pay for the debt. Lands that were acquired by Sir Robert Llewellyn Bradshaw and paid for by Dr. Kennedy Simmonds were “poofed” away by Bradshaw’s reckless Godson.

The land for debt swap is a most bitter pill to swallow. In Nevis, a new caring CCM Government met a mountain of debt, a land for debt swap already well advanced and a hostile banker doing the bidding of the Government in Basseterre rather than what is prudent and sensible as a banker. In Nevis we were not afforded even the courtesy as a new Government of discussing alternatives. We well understood that this was more about politics than nationhood and little Nevis was caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. But leadership sometimes has to take difficult decisions especially when surrounded by political hostility. In Nevis therefore this Government was forced to accept a land for debt arrangement which we continue to feel is a bad recipe for long-term national development. I am prepared to wager that the hundreds of acres “poofed” away for debt will never return to Kittitian and Nevisian hands. Nay, the colonial phenomenon of landlessness inflicted upon our people by our colonizers is now to be inflicted again upon our people by the esteemed financial genius, the member for number 6.

And so for the much vaunted economic turnaround being touted, the truth is that what has really allowed us this change in fortunes is the seemingly never ending cash cow which has become our Citizenship by Investment Programme.

Indeed, as I attended the last IMF assessment report, the IMF Chief pointed out that traditional tax revenues in the country were flat. In local parlance that means that the traditional economy was not growing. The IMF attributed the upswing in St. Kitts decisively to the CBI programme. Yesterday we learnt from the mover of the Bill that in passport processing fees alone under this programme St. Kitts received over $270 million in the last fiscal year.

In addition to these hundreds of millions, the SIDF which has become a parallel Government with no parliamentary oversight, no control by the Director of Audit and no access to information even to the Prime Minister according to his statements in this very Assembly, has funded nearly every aspect of recent Kittitian life. From direct budgetary support, to tourism promotion to airlift to hotel construction to SKELEC subsidies to REACH to YES to PEP, the SIDF has become the Government in a very real sense. Yet we are told it is private. The phenomenon of a private entity collecting monies for the sale of a public asset, our passport, is a matter which defies logic and common sense. The affairs of the SIDF are as opaque as the darkest night. Our prospects of ever accessing full information about its activities are as remote as Senator Carty ever contesting a seat.

Let us look at some numbers and the budget and national implications.

SKN – CBI Processing Fees – Budget Implications

2014 estimates

2013

estimates

2013 projected

Difference

2013 estimate  to projected

2012 actual

Total Recurrent revenue

517,394,195

464,379,444

663,562,804

+199,183,360

531,615,250

CBI processing income

100,000,000

70,000,000

247,570,375

+177,570,375

141,002,887

Total Recurrent expenditure

447,153,518

409,283,516

426,979,742

+17,696,226

430,358,389

Current account surplus

70,240,677

55,086,928

236,583,062

+181,496,134

101,256,851

NOTE: The costs associated with CBI processing are listed as $21m EC in 2013 and $8m EC in 2012

Budget Discipline

Estimate for Recurrent Expenditure in year

Actual Recurrent expenditure in year

Overspend

2013

409,283,316

426,979,742

+4%

2012

400,920,309

430,358,309

+7%

2011

401,319,304

483,933,751

+20%

2010

430.030,842

507,194,460

+18%

 

KEY POINTS

·         Without CBI processing revenues SKN accounts would be in deficit in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

·         CBI processing revenues account for 98% of the improvement in the surplus recorded in 2013.

·         In 2013 CBI processing revenues now make up 37% of total recurrent revenue

·         The financial discipline has exceedingly been poor overspending estimates on recurrent expenditure every year           for the past 4 years.

·         Stripping out the CBI revenue the record of budget management has not been a good one.

·         The real way to look at this is to discount the Citizenship processing income.  In this case we have a consistent           level of negative performance from this administration.

POLITICAL ISSUES

·         Income from citizenship processing has now grown to make up 40% of our total revenue income. In 2012 it was just over 20%. If we look at all other revenue streams from customs duties to land taxes etc – the picture is of static if not declining totals whilst the expenditure needs of our public services not least in health, crime and education continue to grow apace. This administration has taken their eye off the ball of revenue generation because they felt they could always fall back on Passport revenue. There has been a lack of discipline here and too many tax exemptions given to overseas developers and others. By contrast in Nevis the CCM administration without the cushion of passport incomes has grown revenues by over 7% in the past year.

·         SKN is highly vulnerable on Passport integrity being sustained as the importance of CBI processing income has             grown each year.

·         Anything that puts at risk the SKN Passport integrity and so CBI revenues puts at risk the public services of S                SKN

·         This is a budget that leaves our public services dangerously reliant on passport incomes that are now seriously             at risk because of the actions of this minority administration.

·         This is a budget that – unless the underlying revenue issues are addressed and we regain our international                   credibility – will unravel very quickly in the near term.

·         In short I would argue that the longer this discredited administration continues in office, the greater the risk to             the credibility of our citizenship, the greater the risk that taxes will have to be raised or new ones introduced               and public services cut to make up for the loss of the citizenship revenues this administration has made us so               reliant on.

International Risks

And yet this same Labour/NRP regime has taken a number of deliberate actions that have undermined the credibility of our CBI programme. The goose that has been laying the golden egg is systematically being mismanaged to death.

Now let us keep the CBI in perspective. It was introduced by the government of Dr Kennedy Simmonds. What this Government has done to introduce the SIDF and ever more exotic forms of acquiring the SKN passport. The rapid expansion and commercialization of the SKN passport accounts for the surpluses now being boasted about but this approach has also led to many undesirables getting their hands on our passports. Enter Mr Moghadam who showed up in Canada not just with an SKN passport but with a diplomatic passport. He lies to Canadian border officials triggering an understandable response from Canada, our dear friend and ally. To this day the Nation does not know if Moghadam is still our fellow citizen and more importantly our diplomat. But if claims that he paid US$1 million for his diplomatic passport are true, then perhaps he now cannot be stripped of that million dollar privilege.

At some point in 2012 the genius from number 6 decided to remove the place of birth from the SKN passport. In addition no previous names of the holder were now to be included. Put differently, an Iranian or Libyan could now come here and change their name and get our passport in their new name with no place of birth. I cannot think of a greater recipe for abuse than this reckless action.

In mid-2013 the Honourable mover of the Bill announced that no more Iranians or Afghans would be permitted to access the CBI programme. Yet 10 months later the United States Government through FINCEN issued a scathing advisory which stated in part that notwithstanding those assurances, Iranians were still accessing the SKN passport. Moreover these “illicit actors” were abusing our passports to evade US sanctions.

This was followed by the esteemed Press Secretary and chief propagandist for this outgoing regime publicly stating that the place of birth had been removed from the SKN passport at the behest of the US government. The US took the unprecedented step of issuing a formal statement denying that this was the case. Put differently, this regime had lied on the US Government.

The Canadians were upset. The US was upset but this reckless regime continued merrily dishing out passports to as many Libyans, Iraqis, Syrians, Egyptians, Saudis, Pakistanis and now Nigerians they could find.

The reaction from Canada was predictable albeit truly lamentable. They have slapped Visa requirements on SKN passport holders whilst removing such requirements from Chileans on the same day. Their concerns were clearly with the CBI programme and they said so. You, I and every other passport holder from SKN will now pay the price. Our days of waltzing into Canada are over.

The response now that the horse has bolted down Belmont Park? Our esteemed Minister of Foreign Affairs and my fellow Nevisian now declares that all passports issued since 2012 without place of birth and without previous names noted will be recalled and replaced. We are not told how many passports but the estimates are over 20,000. More troubling is that it has been decreed that this must be done by January 31st or the old passport will be null and void. Mark you this is after the same Minister of Foreign Affairs assured you and I and the entire Nation on or about Nov 26th, 2013 in this very Assembly that our visa free access to Canada was not at risk and our removal of the place of birth was entirely consistent with international law. The Honourable gentleman either misspoke terribly or worse yet sought to mislead us all. Whatever the position, every tut mum sam and baggai in St. Kitts and Nevis must now pay the cruel price of seeing our visa free access to a decades old friend in Canada removed.

What I want the Nation to ponder however is that to date our people have not been told why the place of birth and previous names of the passport holder were removed from the St. Kitts Nevis passport in the first place. We have not been told at all at whose behest and for whose benefit these radical departures from passport security norms regionally and internationally were made. Was it to help Iranian and Syrians travel more easily? Well when the Honourable mover of the bill and the Honourable Foreign Minister was busy looking after the Iranians and the Syrians who was looking after the people from Sandy Point and Church Ground?

I believe that the evidence is clear that neither the US nor Canada trusts this minority regime. They do not believe that in Basseterre they have a reliable partner which is serious about international relations and maintaining the safety and security of their borders. I fear that no amount of changes now that the horse has bolted will satisfy major Western Government who clearly have NO CONFIDENCE in this Douglas regime.

Our Nation needs a fresh start with persons who have the necessary political capital and goodwill to rebuild trust and confidence with our allies around the world. Team Unity offers itself as that fresh start. Let us move beyond this dark period in our history with renewed hope and a clear vision for the future of our young Nation.

 Let us shed the baggage and permit our people once again to feel proud of this the land of their birth and their ancestry. The writing is on the wall. The evidence is clear. The time my friends is now.

NEVIS IMPLICATIONS

·Nevis is not getting any share of CBI processing revenue – despite generating many CBI real estate schemes and contributing significantly to the attraction of the Passport.

·Just taking Tamarind Cove – this has generated an estimated nearly $6m EC in CBI revenue for St. Kitts. Little Nevis gets zero.

Yet the bitter pill that my fellow Nevisians must now swallow that despite the fact that the CBI proceeds are guarded jealously for use in St. Kitts and only St. Kitts, the people of Nevis must now suffer the same expense and inconvenience of having to seek new passports and having to obtain visas to travel to Canada. Just a few days ago, I received a frantic call from a mother whose daughter, a university student, was to spend her Christmas holidays in Canada with relatives. Alas now she must seek a visa. That entails sending her passport with birth certificate, invitation letter from her relatives in Canada, police report and prof of financial support and of course paying the cost of obtaining the Canadian visa with absolutely no guarantee that the Visa will be granted. The people of Nevis will not forget nor forgive this gross insult to them.

I take some time now then to look at the Nevis situation.

It is an open secret that this great CCM Party which I am privileged to be a member of was not the Party chosen by our little friend from number 6 to lead Nevis. Sadly, he has a habit of misunderstanding the Nevisian people and misread the chatter of the once proud NRP Party for real support among the electorate. The results of the 2013 election having been correctly seen as a rebuff to him and his chosen party by the Nevisian electorate and since then every available effort has been made to attack, vilify and embarrass the lawfully elected Government of Nevis.

I set out but a snapshot below:

· Prior to the CCM gaining office, the previously led NIA received some modicum of budgetary support from the Federal Government from its own receipts of support from the SIDF. This was only right and proper since the SIDF monies derive from the sale of a St. Kitts AND Nevis asset, our passport. However immediately upon the voters of Nevis electing a CCM Government, that budgetary support immediately stopped.

· Prior to the CCM gaining office the PEP programme had been started and was being run in Nevis through the Ministry of Social Affairs. Immediately upon the electorate voting for the CCM government of their choice, the PEP was said to be private and was moved out of Social Affairs and put into a rented building in Charlestown. Yet in St. Kitts I am advised that the PEP is administered through the Government here. It is therefore private in Nevis but government run in St. Kitts.

·The $20 million TBill issued by the previous NRP led NIA had been guaranteed each and every year by the Federal Government. Suddenly, the people elected CCM and the guarantee was refused forcing little Nevis to default. Thank God however that with the prudent leadership of the Honourable member for number 10 and the Grace of God, the NIA has satisfied the holders of that NIA security and none have had to take a haircut.

·Nevis civil servants cheques were dishonoured by the National Bank who suddenly discovered that the official overdraft limit of the NIA was $50 million when they had allowed their friends in NRP to run it up to $65 million, convert that to a long term loan and run it back up to $65 million again all in the space of less than 3 years. But this new CCM led NIA was to be punished. And oh how they laughed and rejoiced at the misfortune of their fellow citizens in Nevis. Mine you, all this time collecting hundreds of millions in passport processing fees and SIDF budgetary support whilst Nevis gets not a penny.

· Major projects in Nevis have been delayed and given the run around for CBI approval for months whilst on St. Kitts new CBI projects were being approved and breaking ground at breakneck pace. These investments could have done much to push Nevis ahead in the past 2 years. Instead the artificial picture was created that somehow investment was not also willing, ready and able to flow into Nevis.

·Even recently, the Honourable mover of the bill appeared in Nevis with a bevy of his supporters in tow numbering 110 to be precise plus the usual platoon of security personnel. They came purportedly to have a conversation with Nevisians about progress. But the lawfully elected Government of Nevis was neither invited nor advised. One young woman clad beautifully in blue asked why her representative the Honourable Mark Anthony Graham Brantley was not invited only to be roundly castigated, heckled and cursed out by this rent a crowd brought to peaceful Nevis for that very purpose. Disrespect for the Nevisian people of the highest order.

·More recently 2 members of the other side showed up at an NIA run High School in Nevis to hand out laptops without first advising the Premier and Minister of Education in Nevis or Nevis education officials. The same speed they came they were sent packing. I am told they will now return having satisfied proper protocol.

The point here is that the people of Nevis have a Government chosen by them in a landslide popular vote. There may be some in Basseterre aggrieved that they backed a dead green horse in Nevis instead of the raging blue stallion. But that must not and cannot become an excuse for the continued disrespect and vitriolic attacks on the lawfully and legitimately elected Government of the people of Nevis.

So all who blue vex let them know that the Concerned Citizens Movement is here and here to stay and they will be blue vex for a long time.

But whilst they have schemed and plotted the demise of this great CCM Party in Government here is a snapshot of what has been achieved with no passport monies:

·         7% growth in revenue in 2013

·         18.7% increase in tourism from 2013 to now

·         Free electricity and water to our senior citizens 65 and over living on their own with no or fixed income

·         Entire city of Charlestown now secured by CCTV (and let me pause to thank the Government and people of the             Republic of China on Taiwan for their help) making Charlestown the first city in the OECS so covered by CCTV

·         Completion of the major Hamilton Road at a cost saving of over $2 million plus the construction or rehabilitation           of secondary roads all over the island.

·         Constructed a playing field at Zion for cricket and football and other sporting activities

·         Saw the start of the expansion of Mount Nevis Hotel, the tremendous expansion in construction at Four Seasons           Resort Estates, the initial phase of the Butlers Resort and Residences, and in the next several days the start of             the Paradise Palms and Candy Resort projects.

·         The resumption of airlift to the VAI airport moving capacity from our major hub of San Juan from 14 seats per               day to 100 seats per day.

·         Moving cruise ship calls from 34 last year to 68 this year

·         Investing in training of our young people sending off just over 40 in the last 2 years with full or partial                           assistance to study different disciplines.

·         Purchasing new state of the art ventilator and anaesthesia machines for the Alexandra hospital, the first                       ventilator purchased since 1994.

·         Accessing 3 school buses for the children of Nevis with 1 to be delivered this week and the others in the New               Year.

·         25% reduction in the fuel surcharge since January 2013 long before SKELEC followed suit

·         10% salary cut for all Ministers of the NIA since taking office until now.

·         Refurbishment of public squares in Charlestown and the Hunkins Drive transforming it into the Boulevard of                   Flags to welcome our guests and non-nationals living with us in harmony

·         Liberalizing work permits so that the practice of harassing non Nationals has been brought to an end leading to             a more harmonious Nevisian society.

·         Securing transportation of the Nevis division of the Police

·         Purchase of 2 brand new fogging machines for the island

·         Introduced radiation therapy for cancer treatment at our local hospital

·         Transformed agriculture with reintroduction of onion production and greater use of shade houses

·         Saw the creation of over 400 jobs in the past 2 years

·         Mortgage relief for affordable home buyers allowing them to save tens of thousands and secure title to their                 homes now instead of in 30 years.

Friends, can you imagine achieving these and more with all the hostility directed at us? Can you imagine how Nevis could have been transformed even more if it had even a notional share of the hundreds of millions of dollars pouring into Basseterre from the sale of our joint passport?

In Nevis we have committed strong leadership that is trustworthy and reliable. The people know it, and even here in Basseterre I am sure in fleeting moments of honesty the good mover of the Bill must grudgingly admit that despite his best efforts, Nevis is moving positively and purposefully in the right direction.

I take a moment now to raise a burning issue affecting the former workers of Lime in Nevis and others. Many were made redundant and offered packages as Lime restructured its operations. To date years later none have received their severance payments. Appeals by them have fallen on deaf ears. I wonder if others who similarly took packages from Lime have received their severance whilst the poor workers in Nevis suffer. I would want people like my friend and brother MB and my family Lester Liburd and my constituent and friend Hugh Martin and all the others to know that paying them their monies will be the first order of business for the next Unity Government. Imagine my good friends Lindo and Dave Allen have died waiting for that money and still nothing. This is grossly unfair when others much better off collected their severance payments. Relief is coming in the New Year for them. This minority Government has abandoned them. I pledge to them today that Unity will not abandon them.

Also for all the chatter about surpluses, the hardworking men and women at the Prison Farm in Nevis have been without transport now for 67 long days. What God forbids will happen if there is an emergency there?  

I speak briefly now on crime. All development is pointless unless our people feel safe in their homes and their businesses. Whilst we hear glib assurances that crime is down, the reality is that violent crime particularly murder continue to be at an all-time high with us registering 22 murders thus far for the year. What is even more deeply troubling is that hardly any are being detected and criminals brought to justice. The system is broken and empty platitudes will not fix it. We cannot continue to allow murder and mayhem to occur without consequences. When criminals can assassinate someone right in front of the Basseterre Police Station in a hail of bullets it tells us that crime is truly out of control and the criminals have no respect for the Police or for the system of justice. Whilst the Nation has been subjected to puerile statements and bombast from a Commissioner who knows only how to berate officers in Nevis while talking nonsense about having criminals in St. Kitts on the run. The balloon that was squeezed is now squeezing all of us. 

I say from this rostrum today that it is time for us to swallow our pride and request outside help to investigate and bring to justice these murderers in our midst. The NIA has repeatedly asked for the invitation of the FBI, Scotland Yard or even the RCMP to be brought in to assist with these files and in particular with the case of missing teen in Nevis Dillon Clarke and others. We have been repeatedly told by the Police leadership that no such help is necessary.

This is a budget that is politically tactical when it should be strategic – It offers very little new to address the problems of crime, job creation, community cohesion and greater sharing of resources between St. Kitts and Nevis.

This is a budget that lacks discipline and treats the public finances as if in the gift of one man – when we cannot afford lax controls and we cannot afford to continue this culture of dependence and patronage.

Time and time again the world’s history is littered with examples of political leaders outstaying their welcome. They become surrounded by people who dare not challenge them and worst of all they stop questioning themselves – they believe they are always right and their response to any problem is to take more power to themselves.

I want to wish to people of District 9 who have sent me here, the people of Nevis and the people of the Federation a happy Christmas season and a bright and hopeful New Year.

I congratulate young Chloe Williams our 1014 State Scholar and note for the record that the top 4 students for CAPE this year are all from Nevis. I also congratulate Kimmie Lee Knight, whose mother is my fellow Brown Hillian, for the best results at the CSEC level and my own daughter Brianna Brantley for the best CSEC results in Nevis.

To my people in Nevis I say to you that it’s time to allow Nevis to speak with one powerful voice in Basseterre: 9, 10 and 11. All Three. Send us to Church Street to sit at the table for you not as mendicants with cap in hand but as equal citizens of this country entitled to bear their equal share of the burden and reap their equal share of the benefits of this great Nation.

As CCM, you have seen us at work. You know you can trust us. We say what we mean and mean what we say. You have seen the open hostility of this minority Government towards us in Nevis. Imagine being hostile to Nevis while 2 born and bred Nevisians, the members for numbers 1 and 11, sit among their number. Yet here we stand Strong, Resolute, Nevisian. 

Our country has had 2 Prime Ministers since Independence. It has had a coalition Government of PAM/NRP from 1980 to 1995. It now has another coalition in Labour/NRP from 2010 until now. Never before did any PM interfere in the internal politics of Nevis until now. The Statesman Dr Simmonds whilst in coalition with NRP never sought to punish CCM or the people of Nevis for electing them. He understood that he as Prime Minister had to work with whomever the people of Nevis elected.

But this minority PM has sought to interfere directly and indirectly in the local political affairs of Nevis. He stood in this very House and declared he will keep Nevis green. He was rebuffed in Nevis in 2010, 2011 and 2013 and will again be rebuffed in 2015. I have asked him to stay out of Nevis’ local political business but such is the arrogance that he feels he can dictate to proud Nevisians who should lead them.

I am here today to serve notice to the Nation and to remind all those who have ears to hear that St Pauls, St. Kitts and St Pauls, Nevis are 2 different St Pauls.

I wish all members in this House a blessed Christmas. For those who shall not return in the New Year I bid you adieu. For those who will, the CCM looks forward to working with you as we restore decency and good governance to our beloved Nation. Team Unity is ready, willing and able to lead. Ladies and gentlemen. Kittitians and Nevisians. IT’S TIME.






 

 

 

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