Few events in the recent history of St Kitts & Nevis can match the sheer barefacedness of the failed attempt by the Nevis Island Administration to fib its way out of the decision to fall in line with the Federal Government in implementing a land-for-debt arrangement.
The craven maneuver executed by the Concerned Citizens Movement calls to mind the well known saying that begins with “Oh, what a tangled web we weave …”.
Beyond the shadow of a doubt, the Unity construct’s CCM was hoist by its own petard. In advance of the Nevis elections held in January 2013 the CCM, then in opposition, had campaigned on a platform that vehemently rejected the very idea of any land-for-debt. At that time, the NIA was in the hands of the Nevis Reformation Party, and the CCM had joined with the Peoples Action Movement to move a Motion of No Confidence in the Federal government. The combined opposition filed the motion largely in protest against the land-for-debt initiative.
Throughout the election campaign, the CCM insisted that the land-transfer initiative was an abomination. The party was able to take the leadership of the Nevis Island Administration away from the NRP on the premise that if elected they would implement alternative solutions to the island’s debt challenges. Months passed, during which time none of the promised alternative solutions saw the light of day.
Then, in a surreptitious manner, strange reports began to filter into the public domain. Rumors surfaced that in direct contradiction to its often-repeated campaign promises, the CCM had gone back on its word. A flabbergasted public now heard that behind closed doors, and in total secret, Unity’s CCM had cravenly reversed itself on the land-for-debt issue. The promised alternative fiscal policies were no longer being discussed. This, when less than a year before, the same CCM had joined in filing a Motion of No Confidence against the Federal Government for doing exactly what CCM had now just done.
The story did not end there. It soon became clear that Unity’s CCM had gone beyond the initial work performed by the NRP. The CCM had done more than adopt a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Bank: it had considerably expanded the quantum of Nevisian lands involved, increasing the amount from 238 to 350 acres in total.
The revelations were earthshaking. Something had to be done, and fast. A desperate NIA quickly devised what it thought was a clever deception, and floated the story that its hands had been tied because of what it termed a “binding agreement” left behind by the NRP.
That story is, of course, patent hogwash. There was in fact no binding agreement. An MOU is precisely what it says it is: an understanding – and like all understandings, it is subject to amendment as circumstances change. The CCM had performed the most barefaced political flip-flop of the century (thus far) – and was now determined to lie its way out.
The shell-shocked people of Nevis are waiting to see how many more lies the Unity construct’s CCM comes up with next.