BASSETERRE, ST KITTS – The St Kitts-Nevis Labour Party Government’s Land for Debt Initiative heralded by regional and international financial institutions is under threat.
And Leader of the Opposition, the Rt. Hon. Dr Denzil L. Douglas, who crafted the intuitive with the aim of bringing the target to 60 percent by 2017, noted that the Land for Debt initiative was used as the excuse for former senior minister Dr Timothy Harris and deputy prime minister Sam Condor breaking ranks with the then Labour Part government.
Addressing the 84th Annual Conference of his St Kitts-Nevis Labour Party on Sunday, Dr Douglas noted that the best news reported by the IMF was that the debt to GDP ratio is now expected to reach the ECCB target of 60% by 2017, some 13 years ahead of the 2030 projected date established by the ECCB.
“Of course, the debt for land swap is the single most important contributor to this exceptionally remarkable achievement. And that visionary initiative by the St. Kitts and Nevis Labour Government deserves a resounding round of applause. This is why the IMF indicated in very definitive terms that “establishing a clear framework for resolving the debt-land swap is crucial to preserve (1) the credibility of debt restructuring, (2) the hard-earned gains in debt sustainability, and (3) financial sector stability.” And here, the IMF therefore applauded the Special Lands Sales Company, the entity established by the Labour Government to play the lead role in implementing the debt for land swap,” said Dr. Douglas, who recalled that it was the Land-For Debt Swap that Dr Timothy Harris and Sam Condor used as their excuse for leaving the Labour Government.
“This was their reason, they said, for supporting a vote of no confidence in Parliament. You should also remember that after Timothy Harris and PAM had actually assumed office, the land-for-debt swap was described as a ‘theft” in the Throne Speech. After all of this, Timothy Harris and PAM have now moved forward and appointed a Board for Special Land Sales Company to proceed with the implementation of the Land for Debt Swap. What hypocrisy! What dishonesty! What deception!” said Dr Douglas?
Dr Douglas said the Timothy Harris government needs to admit to the public that they were wrong in the stance that they took on the land for debt swap.
“They need to admit that the Labour Government was indeed being far-sighted and visionary in coming up with this initiative. They need to publicly apologize for deceiving the country and for making such irresponsible and outrageously false statements in relation to this matter that was of such crucial importance to the development of our Federation,” said Dr Douglas.
The former Prime Minister boasted that his St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Government transformed, modernized and strengthened the nation’s economy beyond the expectations of even the most demanding international financial institutions.
“That is why I am proud of my stint as Prime Minister and the performance of the Labour Government under my leadership. I am especially proud of the effectiveness of the war we mounted on poverty and of the huge percentage of our population, from all political parties, that experienced substantial improvement in their standard of living while I was in office. What worries me most now is the uncertainty and vulnerability being experienced nationwide because of the arbitrary actions of a vindictive Government,” said Dr. Douglas.
He said too that his heart bleeds today for the young men of Saddlers and thousands of similar youths in this country, who are now vulnerable to gun violence and anti-social activities.