BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, DECEMBER 10TH, 2016 (PRESS SEC) — The Appropriation (2017) Bill, 2016 was read a third time and passed last night (Friday, December 9th, 2016) in the National Assembly of St. Kitts and Nevis. The bill provides for the services of St. Christopher (St. Kitts) and Nevis for the 2017 financial year, which runs from January 1st through December 31st, 2017.
Prior to the passage of the bill, Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, who is the Minister of Finance, wrapped up the Budget Debate in accordance with the rules of the House that concern the Right of Reply – Section 41 of Standing Orders, (1) and (2).
Section 41(1) states that, “The mover of a motion may reply after all the other members present have had an opportunity of addressing the National Assembly…” and Section 41(2) states that, “A Minister may conclude a debate on any motion which is critical of the Government, or reflects adversely on or is calculated to bring discredit upon the Government or a Government Officer.”
On Wednesday, December 7th, Prime Minister Harris laid before the National Assembly his Team Unity administration’s Estimates of the Revenue and Expenditure of the Government for the 2017 Financial Year.
During Wednesday’s presentation, Dr. Harris announced that his Government would invest EC$712.9 million – on both recurrent and capital expenditures – to “develop and implement policies, strategies, programmes and projects that can help to stimulate the economy and enhance human development.” The Honourable Prime Minister also said that – for the second consecutive year – there would be no new taxes as part of the Budget proposals for 2017.
The next day, Thursday, December 8th, the Leader of the Opposition gave a very strident response.
Last night (Friday, December 9th), Prime Minister Harris delivered quite an effective rebuttal, sprinkling his speech with compelling exhibits in the form of revelatory letters of correspondence related to the dealings of the previous administration, as well as extremely positive, recent reports from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other credible and reputable institutions concerning the exceptional economic performance of St. Kitts and Nevis under his Team Unity administration.
Dr. Harris also recalled some of the startling and dramatic occurrences surrounding then-Speaker of the National Assembly Curtis Martin’s refusal for 26 months to table for debate the Motion of No Confidence in the previous administration, which then-Leader of the Opposition the Honourable Mark Brantley [now the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs and Aviation] had filed on December 11th, 2012.
Prime Minister Harris mentioned, too, the absence of a Deputy Speaker during the previous administration, which had cast a pall over the proceedings of the House, as this was in contravention of the Constitution: Section 32(3).
Interjecting into the Honourable Prime Minister’s passionate debate wrap-up last night, the Honourable A. Michael Perkins, Speaker of the National Assembly, read Section 41(2) of the Standing Orders.
The Honourable Speaker then said, “Just in case there is anyone wondering why I am allowing this presentation from you [Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris], it is simply owing to the fact that the rules allow it, and during the debate I did hear very harsh criticism of the Government…so it is for that reason that I am allowing the mover of the bill in his Right to Reply to do so in a way he so wishes once the Chair is satisfied that he remains within the rules of the House.”