Mr. Speaker, I rise with your leave and with the support of the Elected Majority in this Parliament to offer hope to our people who have been languishing over time.
I rise to say that Team Unity represents the best hope and I daresay the only hope for the future of our people and country. Mr. Speaker, I did not expect much from an illegitimate government. For I am of the view that a government that is afraid to table a Motion of No Confidence (MONC) and afraid to go back to the people cannot be trusted to act on behalf of the people. The exercise in futility that passed as a budget was more like a stuck record reliving the blues and at times the lyrics were delusional.
This IMITATION Budget that has been put forth today by the Douglas Administration is filled with words and numbers. It is a document that represents a government that is out of gas and out of ideas. So out of ideas they are that after 19 years in government, their special talent is to plagiarize from Team Unity’s agenda. Shamelessly and hopelessly they have been stealing our ideas and adopting them badly. Caught up in their fantasy land, they believe that they are fooling people by coming in the last year of election to undo the hurt and pain. Alas our people will not be fooled. So since November 2010, they against advice imposed the highest introductory rate of VAT in the region, and then you suffer the pain and hardship. Now just before an election the copy cats on the other side have stolen team Unity’s idea of VAT reduction. Team Unity Vat policy will result in zero rated VAT on all not some, all food items. It will extend to medication, educational supplies; the necessaries for the disabled and we shall remove it from funeral expenses. So too they, steal our idea of reduction of student loans, free access to pre-school education This is a document that attempts to pacify a people instead of building prosperity for a people. This is a document that maintains the status quo. It is a document with no vision, put together by people that have given up on their own brothers and sisters. This administration has turned its back on the people of St. Kitts and Nevis! This Imitation Budget was not about the future of St. Kitts and Nevis. This document is filled with words and numbers that just fulfill the duty of the government to submit a Budget. It does not reflect the hopes and dreams of a people who want prosperity for themselves and their families. It does not send a message to service providers that our Citizen by Investment Program is being freed of illicit actors. It does not send a message to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) that we are ready to enter the sunshine of transparency and accountability. This Imitation Budget does not say to the local small businesses like Glimbaro. Annie Bakery, Fraites Bakery, Tota Restaurant and Williams Auto that we will help you grow and employ more Kittitians and Nevisians. It does not say to the single mother we will help you get on the pathway to prosperity so that you can provide for your families. This Imitation Budget does not speak to the recent college graduate who wants to come home and start a business. It does not speak to the family who is barely getting by with minimum income. The Imitation Budget does not speak to the people. This Imitation Budget is presented by an administration which is trying to hold on to power by any means necessary. It was the last desperate act of an illegitimate government.
So today I come to speak truth to and from and on behalf of the people. I come to speak for the poor unable to pay his/her mortgage, unable to find a job, unable to repay student loans, the high electricity bills. I come to speak on behalf of the aged eking out an existence on an inadequate pension. To all of them I say that which went on yesterday in this house represents a sham, an illegitimate Imitation Budget presentation by a government that has no legitimacy and bereft of constitutionality.
If the government is illegitimate then it follows, every act of the government becomes tainted by illegitimacy. It is very unfortunate that today, our constitutional democracy is being violated by a government that has lost its right to govern.
So from the top of my voice, I say to the government you are illegitimate. You are undemocratic and unconstitutional. You have no authority to bring any legislation other than the MONC. We therefore today, as the elected majority say to the people and we say on behalf of the people that this Imitation Budget is like a poison fruit. It is no good and our incoming Team Unity government will not abide by it because the people deserve better than the empty platitudes offered here.
Come next year we the elected majority will present the real Budget for 2015, sealed with the imprimatur of the elected majority of representatives. Way back on 16th December 1773 we had the Boston Tea Party. At the heart of the matter was an issue of the right to tax and the principle that there can be no taxation without representation on behalf of the majority. Today almost in a reversal of that principle, they in the minority, they in opposition to us – the elected majority without shame, or remorse are purporting to do that which is the anathema to parliamentary democracy that a minority of electedrepresentatives should propose a budget.
Something is wrong with the ship of state. Clearly we have had enough of power without morality. Power without legitimacy.Power without constitutionality. We deserve better. We deserve majority rule. We deserve to have a government supported by an elected majority. We deserve full time service from a government. TEAM UNITY shares the peoples concern about the social, economic, and political challenges that face St. Kitts Nevis and the threats this government has become to the well being and advancement of our people. We don’t need any temporary fixes. We need permanent solutions! This Imitation Budget represents a temporary fix!
We in Team UNITY offer a new way/a new approach and that is putting the people of St. Kitts and Nevis first. The Douglas administration has for far too long put the people last. They have made the people pay for economic policies that benefit very few while the majority suffers in poverty.
The disastrous efforts of this outgoing government to buddy up to economic citizens, with dubious character have caused our CBI to come under international scrutiny and our passports diminish in their prestigious and preferred standing. The question still remains, who advised this illegitimate government to remove the country of origin/place of birth field from our passports? Who wanted to conceal their identity? Who? Was it Moghadam, Porter, Wiseman a Governor in Nigeria? Who determined that Alizeera Moghadam was worthy of a diplomatic passport?
The Press Secretary to the Prime Minister told an untruth on the U.S. government when he propagated that the U.S. government had advised the illegitimate minority government to remove the contrary of origin field contrary to this mischief. The U.S. government notified the regime that there would be adverse consequences for our people. Did they put our people first? No! Our people came last. (Read US Advisory, May 2014, http://www.fincen.gov/statutes_regs/guidance/pdf/FIN-2014-A004.pdf) Read notice from Canada http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/department/media/notices/2014-11-21b.asp). Who is looking out for our people, who now have to go through the hassle of applying for a Canadian visa? What about the money to apply for visa? What about the money for trip to Trinidad, who will pay for this? Who will pay for the hotels? Taxis? Who will pay for our citizens in the BVI and St. Thomas, St Croix, Puerto Rico, etc to come home to deal with the recalling of our passports? Who will pay for those from Iran, Afghanistan, etc.?
We deserve better than having a visa free access to Canada unceremoniously and disgracefully withdrawn from us because of Canada’s “concerns about the issuance of our passports and identity management practices within its citizenship by investment programme. Canada is acting to protect the safety and security of Canadians and the integrity of our immigration systems.”
We Deserve Better
We deserve a united country not one in which our leaders speak and encourage division, divisiveness and political tribalism. We stand for Unity. Unityin the interest of our country.
We deserve a government of national unity to end victimization against the people. We deserve a federal government that will fight for Nevis and respect the Nevis island Administration (NIA). We deserve a government that understands the history of St. Kitts and Nevis, and is committed to change the situation of acrimony and strife and genuinely represent all of the people. Yes we deserve better. With Team Unity you will get the best.
We deserve PLP, PAM, CCM and all others working not in party partisan interest, but in the interest of the country at large. We deserve an economy that is growing and booming so that thousands of our young people do not end on a short term pre-election programme going by acronyms like YES and PEP. YES lasted until the elections of 2010. PEP is framed by the same mind as YES.
We offer our PEP workers stable jobs, higher incomes and real opportunities for self employment as farmers, fishers, landscapers, owners of hair dressing salons, etc. Ours will be an agenda of inclusive growth which is job rich.
We deserve better than hospitals that are run down. We deserve better than to have our citizens and residents in our hospitals beds waiting for a kind friend or family to buy medication to bring back to our hospitals which have run out of them.
We deserve better than our country being ranked among the top 10 most homicidal countries in the world. See Global Study on Homicide 2011, 2012, 2013 published by United Nations. We deserve better than our young people being shot dead in the privacy of their homes, in the hospital, on our playfields, on the streets corners. We deserve a country at peace with itself and united in the fight against crime.
JustMonday night we had our 23rd murder for this year. Our police don’t need business as usual. They need the best training, technology and resources so they can be equipped to do their jobs. We cannot have a prosperous nation if we don’t have a safe nation. And when we have one of the highest murder rates in the world, a sensible response must be had and it cannot be condensed to business as usual. Same old refrain, same old blame game, same old recycled statements.
The Imitation Budget should reflect the desire to want a safe nation. It should not be business as usual. This government is ignoring the crisis at hand. It is burying its head in the sand. As it does so, another murder, another loss takes place.
I pause to acknowledge the death of those who passed away through violent and brutish acts this year. I remember them and I keep their families in my prayers.
We deserve fair treatment for our police officers. The police deserve promotions based on merit. They deserve leaders who will keep politics out of the force. They deserve to be judged on their professional performance because people matter more. Our people deserve a Police Force that is well equipped, well trained, loyal not to politicians but loyal to the law and constitution.
We deserve a criminal justice system that delivers efficient justice. Team Unity will put the resources required to make the country safe and secure again. We can move from the pariah status of being ranked a murder capital. We Team Unity will do this for the good of our country. We will provide more prosecutors, we will set up a special court for violent crimes to expedite trials, deliver justice and save lives.
Team Unity is concerned that too many of our mothers and daughters, fathers and sons end up in debtors’ jail because they are unable to pay their obligations to Courts, TDC, S.L Horsford, and Fast Cash. These persons are bankrupt. They are not paying because they are bad, or negligent, they are not paying because they cannot. The economy has failed them and their government has lost its way.
Politics must not be reduced to a get rich quick scheme of our leaders who use their positions to unfairly enhance their riches and that of their families and close circle of friends. Politics cannot be about duty free concessions for a senator to build his home and then lease it to a Commissioner of police for nigh $100, 000 per year.
Government is meant to be the guardian of the people’s resources; the managers of the national investment to ensure that all the benefits return fairly to the people of the Federation including Nevis!
The Nevis Agenda
Nevis is a part of our federation. I am the son of a Nevisian father born Godfrey Nisbette in Cotton Ground, Nevis and son of a Kittitian mother, Margaret Harris. I love Nevis and I love St. Kitts. Those who love build.
My love for Nevis, enjoins me to work hard for Nevis and Nevisians. I pledge to give Nevis its best years in a federal arrangement because IT’s TIME. The Nevisians who listened yesterday’s Parliament may have every right to say Nevis did not feature much. Nevis is an afterthought, an add on for a Police Station, an arena for narrow political agenda of an outgoing regime. IT’s TIME for Nevis not to be an afterthought.
Team Unity knows that Nevisians deserve better. We offer all Nevisians equal opportunity in the Federal government because IT’s TIME!
We will work cooperatively with Nevis Island Administration to bring a better life to all the people of Nevis because IT’s TIME!!
Specifically we will:
1. Financially support the commercialization of the geothermal project in Nevis, clearing the way for jobs for Nevisians and Kittitians, the development of a wide range of specialized skill sets and a tradable product bringing millions in foreign exchange as our pipelines go yonder to Puerto Rico and elsewhere distributing geothermal. We will see significant cost savings in energy.
2. We will share the SIDF resources equitably. To address the unfairness, the bias of the Federal government in distributing the resources of the SIDF, we will provide a lump sum payment to Nevis a goodwill measure and acknowledgement that an injustice was done to NIA, and represents an injustice to all Nevisians. We will of course do a forensic audit of the SIDF Slush Fund and we will hold them accountable for breach of trust and misfeasance if applicable.
3. European Union Funds will be shared equitable.
4. Equitable participation in our Embassies and Missions.
We pledge never again
– will Nevis be treated as an afterthought.
– will political activists on National Bank Board attempt to bully NIA.
– will the cheques of NIA be dishonored on the altar of political expediency
– will the nurses in Nevis be called upon to defy the instructions of their Minister of Health, be he be Mark Brantley or Hensley Daniel.
– will a federal government renege on its responsibilities to the people of Nevis in the case of fire or threat to their safety and security.
We recognize that when Nevis succeeds St. Kitts and Nevis succeeds. Four Seasons in Nevis is the biggest draw of high spending tourists to our federation. Nevis provides examples of successful managed small island. We can learn from Nevis.
Governments business is to manage state of affairs so that every citizen can equally benefit. The profits from all activities of the state or activities done in the name of the state such as the CBI belong to the people of St. Kitts and Nevis. That is why we promise our people a prosperity agenda.
Team UNITY understands that a pathway to prosperity must include a jobs and economy turnaround plan. I recently visited Washington DC at the invitation of St. Kitts and Nevis nationals. During that trip I visited one of the great Universities in Washington DC, Georgetown University where we discussed how we can bring inclusive growth and development to St. Kitts and Nevis. We discussed renewable energy solutions to make energy more affordable. We discussed education partnerships and our graduates coming home and working in St. Kitts and Nevis. We discussed our wonderful tourism industry and new initiatives to get people to St. Kitts and Nevis to experience our beautiful Islands.
We have to begin a new narrative a new discussion on who we are as a people. We often underestimate our own greatness. Far too long, we have been accustomed to the status quo of this administration. Far too long, we have listened to this administration down grade St. Kitts Nevis. There are people who want to help us. There are people who want to help us with job creation. Good paying jobs. Good paying science and technology jobs that will grow our middle class. There are those who understand how to grow our small businesses on our Island. They just need a government that is willing to work with them and not against them.
We must believe in ourselves and change the narrative about our government. Furthermore, government must create the environment for job creation. Instead, this government has foreign governments such as Canada and the United States who believe that criminals, gangsters and terrorists have access to our passports. This is not creating the environment of job creation for the people of St. Kitts Nevis. This creates the environment of fear!!
Our growth drivers will be built on:
– Culture and entertainment
– Manufacturing to include agro processors and link to Tourism
– Financial Services
– Low Tax, low debt and private sector engine of growth
– Alternative energy solutions
– Law and order
– Deepening Democracy
Conclusion for TEAM UNITY Budget Address
Mr. Speaker I conclude
That TEAM UNITY resolve is growing stronger and stronger because they race is not given to the swift but to those that endure to the end.
TEAM UNITY understands that tomorrow actually begins today and we are faced with the urgency of NOW.
We must get on a pathway to prosperity NOW. The People can no longer wait. After I listen to the emptiness and the void of vision presented to us through a so called Imitation Budget, I realize that Team UNITY is needed more than ever.
The old ways are no longer good enough. The cronyism is not good enough. The corruption is not good enough. The trust of this government has been lost. The U.S. government does not trust it to be honest and publicly they told the world so. The government of Canada does not trust it and publicly told it so.
The party bickering is no longer good enough. We need an effort that builds upon our strengths and mitigates are weaknesses.
Imagine with me Mr. Speaker a TEAM UNITY government
– The people will be on a pathway to prosperity
– Every family will have an opportunity to prosper
– The people of SKN will be put first – first land, jobs, investment,incentives
– Our brothers and sisters of CARICOM will get fair treatment and an end to harassment and discrimination
– A jobs and economy turnaround plan will be put in place
– – Safe neighborhoods will be a reality
– Renewable energy resources to help our families save money over the long run
– Small businesses will be empowered. Lincoln hazel I will help you. Sylvester Whyte I will help you. Williams Auto I will help you. Hally Isles I will help you. Hairdressers Team Unity will help you. Barbers, contractors, mechanics Team Unity will help you.
– SKN is respected not feared around the world
– New technology right here in SKN
– Research haven where we are known around the world for our creative genius
– Entrepreneurship will be encouraged
– New tourism products will be created
– The soul of our nation will be restored
– The elders will teach the youth about restoration and preservation
– People will have jobs
– Families will not just be able to make ends meet but they will be able to prosper
– More money in their pockets than and less of your money sent on VAT
– And most importantly our YOUTH WILL CARRY THE TORCH to the Next generation of prosperous Nevisians and Kittitians
– This is my vision; this is what I wake up seeing every day.
– If we can see it then we will achieve it
A prosperous country in which each is endeavoring and each achieving. To God be the Glory. Blessings and Love to all. Finally, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all our citizens and residents.