Statement by the Elected Majority on the 2013 Budget

We the majority of Elected Representatives in the National Assembly of St. Kitts and Nevis will not participate in the debate of the 2013 Budget scheduled to begin today, 9th April 2013. The majority of Elected Representatives consist of the Honourable Mark Brantley, Leader of the Opposition and Deputy Premier of the Nevis Island Administration; the Honourable Sam Condor, former Deputy Prime Minister in the Denzil Douglas Administration; the Honourable Shawn Richards, Leader of the People’s Action Movement; the Honourable Vance Amory, Premier of the Nevis Island Administration; the Honourable Dr. Timothy Harris, former Senior Minister in the Denzil Douglas Administration; and the Honourable Eugene Hamilton, Deputy Leader of the People’s Action Movement.

Instead, we have scheduled a Press Conference at 10am at the Ocean Terrace Inn to further sensitise the people of this country to the continuing threat to democracy posed by the Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Denzil Douglas, and the Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Curtis Martin, who have done everything to prevent the Motion of No Confidence in the government from coming to the floor of the National Assembly for debate.

This continuing, deliberate neglect by the Speaker of the National Assembly, the Prime Minister and his Administration, of their obligation to ensure that the Motion of No Confidence, which was delivered to the Clerk of the National Assembly on the 11th day of December, 2012, is given the highest priority is a reckless disregard of the right of the people of this country to have a government of their choice comprising the majority of elected representatives. It undermines our Federation’s already compromised confidence and credibility. It further weakens an already depressed investment climate and economy and only serves to worsen the hardship being experienced by our people. For this we hold the Prime Minister particularly responsible.

Motions of No Confidence have been disposed of with dispatch in Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and Barbuda, Montserrat, Grenada, Cayman Islands and Jamaica. Nowhere in the Commonwealth Parliaments have there been such lengthy delays in dealing with such an important instrument of democracy, and there is absolutely no reason why St. Kitts and Nevis should set the worst example in this regard. The Motion of No Confidence is a most significant piece of legislative measure. So important it is that only elected members of Parliament can vote on it.

By delaying the Motion of No Confidence, the Prime Minister has continued his pattern of calculated disregard for the rule of law, our Constitution as well as the norms, principles and traditions of good governance and democracy. Indeed this very pattern of behaviour represents one of the reasons that the motion was filed in the first place.

Other matters that led to the filing of the Motion of No Confidence were the Prime Minister’s undermining of the ministerial system of government, the lack of prior consultation with the country regarding the land for debt swap, oppressive electricity rates, the mismanagement of the financial affairs of the country, the unruly parliamentary and extra-parliamentary behaviour of the Prime Minister even to the point of threatening to sell a fellow national, the Senators Bill, the instituting of the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation (SIDF) as an alternative to the consolidated fund to receive moneys which constitutionally are to be paid into the consolidated fund and thereby insulating the SIDF from parliamentary and audit scrutiny and oversight, and the undermining of the electoral system.

These are all significant and weighty matters and the longer these issues remain unresolved the greater the suffering and pain for the citizens and residents of St. Kitts and Nevis. We love our people and our country too much to allow their continuing suffering and hardship by the ill-conceived and failed policies of Dr. Douglas.

In the face of the foregoing, we cannot in this country continue to proceed as if there was no crisis, as if the pain and suffering of our people did not matter. We cannot pretend not to notice the waste or diminution of the talent of our young people who remain idle with their CXC and CAPE certificates, their College/University Diplomas, Associate and other Degrees.

We are in a season of prolonged high unemployment and underemployment. We cannot turn a blind eye to the hardships of our people who are complaining everyday about the high electricity bills, home mortgages which they cannot pay and cannot afford and the inability to buy basic food items on their meagre wages. It is not just individuals who are suffering, businesses large and small are suffering too in the context of five (5) years of economic contraction. Many of our small businesses have been forced to close down creating further disappointment and disillusionment among our people. Our local business people are asking when this hardship will end and they long for the day when a sensitive and competent government will pursue policies that put money in the pockets of the ordinary people and build a vibrant middle class.

As it stands, our Parliament has been reduced to a laughing stock. Decorum in the house is often absent and those on the government side never behave well. Our people deserve better and we, the elected majority, are fighting for the betterment of all the people of St. Kitts and Nevis. By absenting ourselves from Parliament, we are bringing to the attention of the wider national, regional and international community, the governance crisis in our country and the hardship of our people. It is our fervent belief that our people deserve better and they must be given the chance to vote for their betterment and the betterment of their country.

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