The land for debt swap is a most bitter pill to swallow…says Brantley

He made this assertion in his presentation during the recent budget debate in the National Assembly.

The Representative for Constituency Number Nine explained that 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.

He reminded the House that it was the mover of the bill (the budget) along with his hapless cohorts in Nevis who then illegally occupied the seat of Government that “hatched the land for debt swap”.

The Deputy Premier also stated that after having recklessly run up the debt to an “unsustainable and unmanageable” level on both sides of the Narrows, the plan was then hatched to bargain away the people’s patrimony, their land to pay for the debt.

“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.”

However, 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, Brantley said.

“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.”

Touching on the economy, Brantley stated that 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”.

He cited the last IMF assessment report, where the IMF Chief pointed out that traditional tax revenue in the country was flat.

Brantley said that the traditional economy was not growing pointing out that the IMF has attributed the upswing in St. Kitts decisively to the CBI programme.

Brantley said too that Parliament learnt on Thursday last that the passport processing fees alone under this programme, amounted to 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 that backdrop he pointed to several areas of which the funds were being used to finance direct budgetary support from  tourism promotion to airlift to hotel construction to SKELEC subsidies to REACH to YES and 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.”




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