St. Kitts-Nevis Opposition Avoids Embarrassment by Avoiding Budget Debate
Basseterre, St. Kitts, April 11, 2013: St. Kitts-Nevis Opposition Leader Mr. Mark Brantley decided to avoid Parliament this week.
So did all of the other Opposition Parliamentarians.
Because the 2013 Budget was being debated, and awaiting them in the chamber was certain defeat.
Prime Minister Denzil Douglas, as leader of the oldest, largest, and most effective political party in the Federation, – the Labour Party – was about to present a Budget that was not only tax free, but was registering major surpluses as well. In addition, after having provided health insurance for every single Government employee just last year, the Prime Minister was now going to provide health insurance to all the country’s citizens. The nation’s debt had been slashed in half. Crime was down 60%. But Douglas had fired one Cabinet Minister and another had resigned, and in this the Opposition saw hope. From this, they concluded, they might be able to spin a narrative of Douglas no longer having the support in Parliament to protect the interests of the nation.
But he did.
And he does.
And that is why the 2013 Budget is now law.
Even as we commend the St. Kitts-Nevis Government for its extraordinary accomplishments, however, the Nation must not take lightly the Opposition’s repeated flaunting of its most basic responsibilities to the Nation: Like showing up in Parliament. And investing the time and effort needed to make informed, intelligent presentations to the Nation on the more complex and/or contentious issues of the day. The debate on a nation’s budget is amongst the most important exercises in any legislature. Yet the St. Kitts-Nevis Opposition was nowhere to be found during the Parliamentary debate on the 2012 Budget. And in the ensuing months, when the extremely important debt reduction (or land for debt) bill came before the House, the Opposition was again “missing in action” at the time of the vote. And then this week, once again, with the very important 2013 Budget being debated, everyone elected or appointed by the Concerned Citizens’ Movement and the Peoples’ Action Movement again decided to shirk the responsibilities of office to which they have been elected, and for which they are being paid. So, too, did the two former Members of the Labour Cabinet..
The people who voted for these men, or who support the Parties that appointed them, deserve better.