The government however has been trying to explain its position by indicating that it owed the National Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis, which is mostly owned by the administration, some 900 million dollars, and the land deal was a swap to help eliminate a huge portion, if not all of the debt owed to the bank. This is all part of a massive 3 Billion Dollar National Debt that the government is desperately trying to reduce and has since entered into an austerity program sponsored by the International Monetary Fund, IMF.
It has also been the position of the government that portions of the land in question will be made available for farming, housing, as well as to facilitate some level of foreign direct investment, such as in the hospitality sector.
However this has not been sitting well with many people, especially those who are supportive of the opposition People’s Action Movement, PAM, but also many who traditionally have been members and supporters of the ruling Labour Government. Even the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Sam Condor, who is also the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, and also his colleague, the Chairman of the Labour Party and Senior Minister of Government, Dr. Timothy Harris, have both made known their objections to the deal, and spoke eloquently so in parliament against the measure.
Centrally, most have objected to the manner and speed by which the transfer was instituted and the fact that it is unwise to transfer that much land from public hands to a private bank, which is most likely to sell the asset at prices that may be unaffordable to many Kittitians and Nevisians.
This, some feel will only return the prized asset back into the hands of foreigners, when so much was done in the past to acquire the same lands in the name of the ordinary people, to help make them landowners. Some have simply characterized the Labour Government’s actions as “turning the clock backwards” and a sell-out of the patrimony of the largely black Kittitian population.
Both the government and the PAM have recently hosted town-hall meetings around the island, promoting their sides of the issue.
Now PAM is preparing for the next stage of its protestation, this time through a series of whistle stops, public meetings and demonstrations; all designed, said one official, to force the government to correct the wrong that PAM and many in society feel was a miscalculated move on the part of the government, headed by Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas, who has been his administration’s chief proponent of the land swap for debt deal.
The new initiatives by PAM have been scheduled to take place from Sunday 18th November, with pre-march whistle stop, starting in Newton Ground and ending in Lodge with a public meeting.
Similar activities have been tabled during the coming week but the climax is planned for Thursday 22nd November, with a march through the streets of Basseterre, ending on Bank Street with a rally. The party has been encouraging its supporters and others in society, to show their objections, through their participation.
The full schedule of events is listed as follows:
Pre-March Events and Schedule
• Sunday Nov 18– Whistle-Stop
Start: Newton Ground
End: Lodge with Public Meeting.
• Monday Nov 19– Whistle-Stop
End: Halfway Tree with Public Meeting.
• Tues Nov 20– Whistle-Stop
• Start: Cleverly Hill, Sandy Point
End: Mt Idle, Sandy Point with Public Meeting
• Wednesday Nov 21– Whistle-Stop
Start: Stapelton Village, St.Peters
End: St.Mary’s Park, Cayon with Public Meeting
• Thursday Nov 22– THE MARCH
Start: Greenlands (Tamarind Tree)
End: Bank Street, Basseterre with Rally