By Toni Frederick
BASSETERRE, St Kitts (WINN) -- Leader of the opposition in St Kitts and Nevis, Mark Brantley, has accused the federal government of deliberately undermining the Nevis Island Administration. In his New Year’s Day address on Wednesday, Brantley slammed the federal government for its role in the administration's defaulting on its treasury bills and questioned its management of the People's Empowerment Programme (PEP) on Nevis.
Opposition Leader Mark Brantley (Photo: Nevis Pages)
"2013 has seen the blatant efforts by a minority federal regime in St Kitts taking deliberate steps to undermine a lawfully elected majority government on Nevis. Nevis treasury bills were forced into default for want of a paper guarantee from the federal government. This guarantee was given in the years before the change of government in Nevis but suddenly refused once the Nevisian people had spoken loudly and chosen a government of their choice. Major projects on Nevis seeking approval from the citizenship by investment programme have been delayed as those in charge refuse to grant approval," Brantley charged.
He criticized the management of the SIDF, a private foundation financed from the sale of passports through the country's Citizenship by Investment Programme.
"SIDF funds are almost exclusively used for projects on St Kitts whilst critical projects in Nevis remain unfunded. Processing and other fees amounting to millions of dollars annually from the citizenship programme are exclusively kept by the federal government to the exclusion of Nevis notwithstanding the sale of a national asset, our St Kitts and Nevis passport. The ubiquitous PEP programme controlled by the federal government in St Kitts and hitherto controlled by the Nevis Island Administration in Nevis has suddenly become a private enterprise activity in Nevis and so outside the control of the Nevis Island Administration but only since the change of government in Nevis. In St Kitts, it continues to be controlled by the government. There can be no doubt that the government and people of Nevis are being punished because the people of Nevis dared in 2013 to elect the government of their choice rather than the one selected for them by the illegitimate minority regime in St Kitts,” Brantley said.
The opposition has repeatedly called for the SIDF to be brought under Parliamentary scrutiny.
"2013 has seen the rise of the alternative government called the SIDF which conveniently sits outside the official oversight of the government and the constitutional safeguards designed by our founding fathers. Yet the SIDF is being used in every way to prop up a failed regime on St Kitts. Project after project is being rushed to implementation and the sale of the St Kitts Nevis passport has become the biggest business in town. But whilst this alternative government is used by the Douglas regime as a slush fund safely outside the glare of parliamentary oversight, questions continue to swirl. Whilst we hear boasts of how fantastic the economy now is, a deeper analysis demonstrates the stark truth that with over 3000 mostly young people and women on the PEP programme earning minimum wage, a significant percentage of our working population and especially our youth remains unemployed or underemployed," Brantley continued.
In his address on Wednesday, Brantley challenged the legitimacy of the Dr Denzil Douglas administration, which has avoided tabling a motion of no confidence for over a year, charging that this and other actions threatened the nation's democracy.
He called for a new direction and a new approach to democracy and nation building.
"It is my simple view that in 2014 our people will be asked a simple question. Do we wish more of the same or do we wish a new approach to governance in our nation? It is a simple question which we all will have to answer in this New Year. In answering that question, where will you stand? Where will the church stand? Where will civil society stand? Where will the Bar Association and the titans of business stand? ... Will we as a nation fall for the same offer of a better life heard every election cycle for the past 20 years or will we finally see the false promises and cynical tricksterism of a dying regime for what they are?" Brantley asked on Wednesday.
Republished with permission of West Indies News Network