BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, AUGUST 6TH, 2016 (PRESS SEC) – Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris said at his press conference on Wednesday, July 27th that attempts to hustle the Team Unity Government into action are unfair and unjust, and amount to calculated schemes aimed at undermining his change-making administration just shy of 18 months into a five-year mandate.
“Let me make it clear – the mandate which we have is a five-year mandate…and it is unfair and unjust for people to come to any government and say you have some matters that have not been done,” Prime Minister Harris said, adding that, “We are not even [in office] two years, so what could you reasonably expect? There will be things in the manifesto undone.”
Dr. Harris continued: “Obama’s term is ending and he will have, after eight years, things undone, fundamental things undone. So this [criticism about the speed of Team Unity’s legislative action] is just a convenient talk by those who want to hustle the government into action, by those who want to bring an unfair negative to attach to this government, and we will robustly defend the government against such undermining because it’s calculated…In the life of any government, in a particular moment in time, there will be areas in which there is no action yet, and there are a range of reasons for that. Michael Powell, our Special Envoy and Ambassador, has been in government for a long time; he knows. There are persons out there who have been in government. They had a number of things to do under their watch as a particular Minister [with assigned portfolio(s)]. They left the government and they didn’t do them, and now they are out of government they want to dictate to the government. Hypocrisy, and we must call it for what it is.”
Indeed, when U.S. President Barack Obama addressed the American people during his speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention just a few hours later on Wednesday, July 27th, Mr. Obama notably said, “My time in this office hasn’t fixed everything; as much as we’ve done, there’s still so much I want to do.” President Obama’s second four-year term, which is his final one under the terms of the 22nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, will end in January 2017.
During the first year of the Team Unity administration, Prime Minister Harris and his Cabinet Colleagues focused on “bread-and-butter issues” and reduced the cost of living in St. Kitts and Nevis while bolstering economic growth. Effective April 7th, 2015, the administration removed the 17% VAT charge from food, medicines and funeral expenses. Moreover, GDP growth as at December 2015 in St. Kitts and Nevis was 6.64% compared to 2.62% in the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU). The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank has set a growth target of 5% for the ECCU. Additionally, more than 1,000 former sugar workers received their past-due gratuities.
The Honourable Prime Minister reported at his press conference on Wednesday, July 27th that, as of July 25th this year, 1,845 former sugar workers received a total of EC$12.2 million out of an EC$16 million grant that the Team Unity Government attained from the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. EC$1.5 million out of the EC$12.2 million payout went to 127 representatives of deceased sugar workers. Applications were made through the secretariat of the Sugar Workers’ Restoration Fund committee, which opened its doors on Monday, May 18th, 2015, three months after the general elections.
Dr. Harris also commended his Ministers for various accomplishments and noted how pleased he was with deliverables in health, like the renovated Mary Charles Hospital, the Oncology Centre for cancer patients and the Mental Daycare Centre that are to open soon.