Former prime minister of St Kitts and Nevis, Dr Denzil L Douglas called on current Caribbean leaders to include all sectors of their respective societies to put their peoples back to work and grow their economies in the face the current coronavirus pandemic.
A guest on Talk Anguilla Rebranded, Dr Douglas, who was referred to as the ‘Elder Statesman of Caribbean Politics’ by veteran broadcast journalist, Keith Stone Greaves, said the two-year old pandemic has affected Caribbean economies especially tourism resulting in the loss of jobs and high unemployment, challenges to the health sector with significant impact on human capital.
Dr Douglas said Caribbean leaders must embrace all stakeholders including opposition parliamentarians and all of society if there is to be a tangible contribution to put the country and people back to work.
Ask about the new brand of political leadership in the Caribbean, Douglas, the Leader of the Opposition in the St Kitts and Nevis National Assembly said more are expected with a new thinking involving more young people of the Caribbean “professional and non professional, skilled and unskilled, creating new opportunities by broadening the sectors for the economic, social and political development of the future.”
“I believe with this new crop of leaders much more is expected of them. Why to a large extent the entire population or representatives of populations are not included? Why should we at this time exclude people from making tangible contributions in the economic, social development and political development of their countries? We are in good place and we must demand more of our leaders,” said Douglas.
He said it was unfortunate the some Caribbean leaders are fearful of the opposition inside and out of parliament.
“We must embrace the opposition, we must make sure that the voices of civil society are loudly heard, we must make sure that they must be aware what the global challenges because of climate change and protecting the environment and involving women folk and youths, ensuring that they are skilled not just academically, but also retooled, thus engaging all sectors of the society in the continued development of their respective countries.”
With reference to the situation in St Kitts and Nevis, the former prime minister said there is the continuing need for the greater integration of the people “so that we can get the best for Kittitians and Nevisians equally. Nevisians and Kittitians and Kittitians and Nevisians, equally sharing in what this country has to offer. A new embracing is what is required here.”
Dr Douglas said government-owned development banks must take on a new thrust and greater cooperation, which is a necessity and greater direction given the credit unions so they can play their part in the economic development and empowerment of the people.”
He made reference of the Bank of Nevis taking over The Royal Bank of Canada and the St Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla National Bank, the First Caribbean International Bank.
“I hope it is not just a mere attempt to expand operations, but to ensure that more of our people are empowered, more of our people are provided the capital that is necessary if we are to grow from where we are as a result of the pandemic crisis.
I would hope that we will be able to see the conclusion of these negotiations and the banks become “more sensitive to the needs of local people who are trying their best to stay afloat,” said Dr Douglas.