Having continuously highlighted concerns about the Sugar Diversification Fund, Crime, Nepotism, Victimization and PEP, the Douglas led opposition response to the budget created a buzz in and around Basseterre, Charlestown and on the social media front.
On this backdrop, in response to the National Budget, the Former Prime Minister now Opposition Leader The Right Honourable Dr. Denzil Douglas used key words such as “fraud”, “deception” and “hypocrisy” to drive home his points about the Budget address as presented by Hon. Dr. Timothy Harris.
Topics ranged from the Citizenship By Investment Program to the
Allocation of resources for Nevis to the Capisterre Farm among other issues. In light of this, questions where raised with specific regard to the budgetary allocations to the Nevis Island Administration. Bearing such in mind, Dr. Douglas highlighted and referenced that there were three different figures quoted for budgetary support to the Nevis Island Administration. In the first instance, the Former Prime Minister insisted that Prime Minister Harris had previously stated that it was $15 million that was expended while the 2015 budget states $20 million and lastly the Nevis Premier in his budget address had put the figure at $25 million. As a result, Dr. Douglas called upon the Unity Government to be transparent as the Budgetary support for Nevis going forward seems to be hidden.
Added to this, Dr. Douglas used part of his presentation to speak to the Citizenship By Investment Program. In doing so, he highlighted the difficulty his then Labour Administration faced with the CBI and the mechanisms that were put in place to make the program more workable even after fierce opposition from the then Opposition Team Unity. Revelations were made about the contents of a letter addressed to the then Prime Minister, Dr. Denzil Douglas from US Secretary of State Mr. John Kerry about specific recommendations that should be undertaken by St. Kitts and Nevis. Further, comparisons where made with regards to the CBI revenues made under the Douglas led Administration as compared to projections for the present administration, $325 million under Douglas as compared to a projected amount of $100 million, (2017) under Team Unity.
Leader of the Opposition, The Right Honourable Dr. Denzil Douglas insisted that the solid economic foundation formulated by the then Saint Kitts and Nevis Labour Party Government paved way for the historic revenue collection.
The Opposition Senator, Mr. Carty, offered solutions as to how the government should have dealt with the Reach and PEP Programs respectively. Senator Carty after reiterating the purpose of the Reach Program and hinting that it’s no more, a revelation was made that the Reach Program is under review. While the Reach Program was used as a means to aid students financially, it also allowed students to realise their academic dreams.
Moreover, as Senator Carty touched on other critical points in his presentation like the amount of new persons incorporated into the PEP, various interruptions were made but being in his element he continued to drive home his points.
The debate continues today with presentations from Honourable Konris Maynard, Honourable Marcella Liburd and Honourable Patrice Nisbett.