BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, JULY 27TH, 2016 (PRESS SEC) –Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris today announced at his monthly press conference that a subcommittee of the Cabinet of Ministers met with persons from among the top brass of the country’s security establishment yesterday, Tuesday, July 26th.
“We had a frank discussion regarding the security situation,” Prime Minister Harris told the nation, adding that, “We have charged the security forces to urgently ensure that a number of initiatives will be taken to bring peace, safety and security to all in St. Kitts and Nevis.” Dr. Harris said that he could not reveal any details because of the sensitive security aspects of the plan that they discussed yesterday at Government Headquarters.
The Cabinet subcommittee was chaired by the Honourable Prime Minister, and also comprised Deputy Prime Minister the Honourable Shawn Richards, who is Minister of Education et al.; the Honourable Senator Vincent Byron, Jr., who is Attorney-General and Minister of Justice et al.; the Honourable Eugene Hamilton, who is Minister of Agriculture et al., and the Honourable Senator Wendy Phipps, who is Minister of State within the Ministry of Health et al.
Representing the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force were High Command members Commissioner of Police Ian Queeley; Merclyn Hughes, who is Assistant Commissioner of Police with responsibility for the Administration, Resources, Technology and Intelligence Directorate; Terrance James, who is Assistant Commissioner of Police with responsibility for the Operations Directorate, and Andre Mitchell, who is Assistant Commissioner of Police with responsibility for the Crime Directorate. Deputy Commissioner of Police Hilroy Brandy, who has responsibility for the Service Improvement Directorate, was in Nevis.
Representing the St. Kitts-Nevis Defence Force were Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Wallace, Captain Kayode Sutton, and – from the Coast Guard Unit – Lieutenant Jason Maloney.
Yesterday’s meeting came a day after St. Kitts and Nevis recorded its 21st homicide of the year. The number of homicides in St. Kitts and Nevis peaked at a record 35 homicides in the year 2011.
The meeting with the security forces also followed on the heels of the Team Unity Administration’s “Discussions for Prosperity” Town Hall Meeting at the Newtown Community Centre, which was broadcast live on ZIZ TV and Radio and also live-streamed viawww.zizonline.com on Monday night. During the question-and-answer segment, a few town hall audience members raised the longstanding problem of gun violence as a concern.
Prime Minister Harris assured them, and all citizens and residents, on Monday night that, “We will bring all resources available to us locally, regionally and beyond the region to ensure we put the most robust fight against criminal behaviour and the upsurge in homicides. We give the promise, the commitment and the undertaking that, for Team Unity, law and order is a sacred responsibility of the State, and we would leave no stone unturned.”
Dr. Harris added: “Indeed, all we are talking about with respect to prosperity will have neither substance nor meaning unless we can preserve the peace. So that is our number one commitment, and that is something that we will work hard to ensure success. We regret that, over the last 20 years, we have been on an uphill battle with respect to this scourge, and we promise that we will do all, everything in our power, with the help of God, to rescue our country and to keep it the safest one in which to live.”
Prime Minister Harris said at his press conference today that his Team Unity Administration, which is 17 months into its five-year mandate, has never reneged on its responsibility to provide resources to the security forces. Indeed, the Ministry of National Security is the beneficiary of one of the largest allotments in the Government’s EC$608.3 million Budget.
“We have done all that we have been asked and we will continue to do more, but it is a partnership, and the safety and security of the country starts with you and it starts with me,” Dr. Harris said.
Prime Minister Harris continued: “Each of us must do what we can to make our country not just a prosperous one. We are the envy of other countries, not just in the Caribbean, but also in Latin America, in terms of our exceptional growth performance.” Prime Minister Harris noted that the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have recognized and praised St. Kitts and Nevis’ robust growth, and so have leaders of other countries.
“I have had the honour to be in meetings, just last week, in which the Honourable Allen Chastanet, St. Lucia’s new Prime Minister, pointed to the fact that in St. Kitts and Nevis we were able to amass a revenue of over $881 million and we were able to do that and to stand as the second-largest generator of government revenue of that magnitude, with a population of 50,000. St. Lucia was able to get $900+ million, and its Prime Minister was marvelling at the excellent performance of St. Kitts and Nevis,” the Honourable Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis said.
“Others are looking to us as a model, a model of how it can be done, and time and time again when it is asked how we do it, I say: the people. The people are the ones who must take responsibility for this success story…Let us not take our good fortune for granted. We must move this country forward step by step, so that the next generation will be better off and have a quality of life better than that which we inherited,” Prime Minister Harris added.