Full Salary, Zero Work

By:Michael Evans

Basseterre, St. Kitts, December 11, 2013: The people of St. Kitts & Nevis are giving high marks to the tax-free Budget presented to the Federation by Prime Minister Denzil Douglas on December 10, 2013. The private sector is welcoming its pro-business, pro-stimulus thrust; young people determined to benefit from St. Kitts’ massive investment inflows are buoyed by the job-training available through the People Empowerment Program [PEP]; its shift from high-cost to green energy is being applauded by businesses and individuals alike; and the list goes on.

Following the Prime Minister’s three-hour presentation, Members of the Prime Minister’s Cabinet began their own in-depth presentations – presenting to the public their respective policy priorities; spending levels both past and future; and the anticipated impact of all this on the nation’s interests.

At this writing, more than twenty-four hours after the Prime Minister’s presentation of his Budget, Labour parliamentarians can be seen and heard in the National Assembly – actively and responsibly engaged in this important undertaking.

Throughout the entirety of this important process, however, nary an Opposition member has been anywhere to be seen, unless one counts the five minutes that Senator Byron spent in the House – just long enough, under the rules, to ensure that he continues receiving his salary, since he had previously missed two consecutive sessions.

And across the nation there is a bitter lament, from Government and Opposition supporters alike: Opposition Parliamentarians continue to collect their salaries but, for three annual Budget Presentations in a row, they have failed to do any work on the Budget – the parliamentary undertaking that is of greatest import to the Federation and its people – without exception.

Opposition parliamentarians everywhere are elected to work. They are required to critique Governments’ legislative initiatives line by line; expose policies that would not benefit, and may even harm, their nations and their people. They are elected to alert the public to flawed analysis and unreliable “facts”.

All of this, however, requires hard work, focus, and preparation. And the Opposition has decided that it is interested in none of that.

So the disrespect goes on.

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