Opposition Leader of St. Kitts & Nevis gives citizens a New Year’s reality check
While the Prime Minister of St. Kitts-Nevis painted a rosy picture, Mark Brantley’s New Year’s message delivered a reality check of the dismal state of affairs in the twin islands.
The Opposition Leader, in recapping the occurrences of 2012, addressed the harsh reality of life in St. Kitts-Nevis for the majority of citizens coupled with the overarching need for hope. The mistakes of 2012, he said, should never again be repeated.
“We have this past year witnessed a time like no other in our young Nation. The year 2012 is now gone, relegated as it were to the scrap heap of history. It was a year of tremendous calamity for our country; a year of missed opportunities; a year of continued demonstration of poor leadership in Government. By any account, the year on which the sun has now set has been a difficult one for our Nation, I believe that the tumult and upheaval of 2012 should never ever be allowed to happen in our country again,” he urged.
Hon. Brantley said many of the societal and economic ills that have continued to plague the populace were self-created and self-inflicted.
“I am tired of a country where we see wrong and say nothing; where our leaders in Government perpetuate wrong with impunity; where our civil society is beholden to one side or the other while the country disintegrates; where even our Churches are silent and our people afraid to speak.
“If tyranny has reared its ugly head in our Nation, it is us the people who have allowed it to take root and have watered it with our apathy and our appeasement. It must therefore be for us, all of us, to uproot it.”
“None were spared the financial carnage. All had to pay the price of seeing their investment halved to pay for a debt we were repeatedly told did not matter.”
The government’s land for debt swap he described as “tragic” and perhaps the cruellest cut of all.
“Some 1200 acres in St. Kitts was bargained away in a single sitting of Parliament; some 200 acres we are told in Nevis is scheduled to be swapped as well. The Nation was again deceived. “Poof” we were told, “the debt is gone”. What we were not told is that “Poof” the land was also gone,” Brantley added.
“The alacrity with which our current leadership gladly swapped our patrimony for debt must pain us deeply.”
In the face of obvious economic distress, Brantley maintains the Douglas government continues to deceive the people. The IMF austerity measures which the current regime claimed were “home grown” and the monies from the sale of St. Kitts-Nevis passports being funnelled into the SIDF “slush fund”, he said, were yet more examples of the leadership’s guile.
“We got 17% VAT, an 86% increase in electricity charges in St. Kitts, increases in taxes and rates across the board, wage and hiring freezes, increased cost of living and more of our people slipping into poverty.”
The Opposition’s Motion of No Confidence in the leadership of the country was brought on “as the rancour within the Government ranks reached a crescendo” and fearing the outcome, Brantley opined, the leadership has used every contortion imaginable to avoid entering the halls of the National Parliament to do the people’s business.
“And so, in a move reminiscent of 1993, we have heard calls of incitement and talk of blood, desperate cries from a leadership that has overstayed its welcome and is now long past its sell by date.”
Addressing the capricious political situation in Nevis, Brantley was equally critical of the NRP-led NIA which he labelled “men desperate for power” who had “set out on a diabolical mission to deny their own people their fundamental right to vote”. He lauded the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court for its independence and courage displayed in seeking to restore democracy in Nevis and “defying those in high office who sought to destroy our democracy”.
“Our Court continues to demonstrate that it is our only bulwark against oppression and tyranny,” said Opposition Leader.
Brantley took the opportunity to highlight the positive developments of last year including an almost 50% drop in the murder rate and the academic accomplishments of the youth, in particular the State Scholar for 2012 Tishana Hazel.
“Her remarkable academic feats are to be admired and should inspire her peers and us as a people,” he said.
Looking forward to 2013, Brantley stressed that change in the New Year must
come if the people are to survive and have a fresh start at nation
“I believe that change must come to our hearts and our minds if we are to fashion a Nation of which we can all once again be proud. Our people will be called upon in 2013 to make some major decisions about the future direction of St. Kitts & Nevis. Whatever those decisions, the voice of the people must remain the voice of God.”