The failure of our Prime Minister to appear in Parliament to address the litany of grievances set forth in the December 6, 2012 Motion of No Confidence and the increasing signs of an early election have combined to produce a sequence of inflated self-appraisals, a deluge of pre-election promises and a plaintive cry for consultations from our leader who has been adjudged by a Court of Law as a “Stranger to the Truth”. Of special significance, is a flatly erroneous (12/23) Press Release from the Office of the Prime Minister suggesting that ‘the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis is the wealthiest in the OECS and third wealthiest in the Caribbean region”. A review of the referenced 2014 World Bank Development Report reveals no basis whatsoever for this inflated claim. There is no reference to wealth in the World Bank report as it relates to St.Kitts and Nevis for the simple reason that accumulated household assets which account for the lion’s share of wealth is very difficult to measure. One is hard-pressed to find any country in the region, including St.Kitts and Nevis that has reported an official measure of its wealth. The report actually draws attention to a very different measure — the normal and customary income levels, measured over an accounting period. These standard income levels do not provide a sufficient basis for drawing inferences regarding a country’s wealth. We therefore have no basis for rendering judgment as to which country in the region is wealthiest. In this “anything goes”pre-election environment, seldom does a day go by, without being bombarded with these types of inflated self-appraisals. In the absence of a budget that has been debated and adopted by resolution of a legally constituted body of the Federal Parliament, we are now being told that the federal Government recorded a current account budget surplus of $+46.6 million in 2011 and $+101.3 million 2012. We have also been told of a record-high budget surplus of over $+240 million for 2013. These glowing pronouncements have not been subject to parliamentary oversight and review. They are a matter of concern when contrasted with the shockingly dreadful performance of Labor’s NRP coalition partner in Nevis whose budget deficits soared to a local record high of $-49.8 million in 2010 and a global record high debt-to-GDP ratio of 258 percent. The deplorable fiscal conditions under NRP left the Nevis Island Administration teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, without sufficient funds for providing dialysis service and unable to retain a fully staffed civil service; while the money buckets of Basseterre were said to be full to the brim and running over. A major contributor to Labor’s budget surpluses is the on-going Federal budget support that it receives from the jointly-owned Citizenship for Investment Program (the “CIP”). The vast majority of CIP dollars are derived from the sale of a St.Kitts-Nevis passport for which Nevis is entitled to a full pro rata share. An estimated 98 percent of SIDF funding is derived from applications approved by the Citizenship by Investment Unit, which is administered and controlled by our Prime Minister. The dollar magnitudes are substantial. Labor’s year-end budget documents reveal that Citizenship for Investment grants “for budget support’to the Government of Basseterre roughly tripled from $14.5 million in 2009 to $42.5 million in 2010. They more than doubled to $88.8 million in 2011 and are projected ex post to reach $141 million in 2012. By contrast, NRP’s year-end budget documents for the comparable period reveal no evidence of receiving any of this of this federal largesse, dedicated to the critical “budget support’that could have mitigated the damaging effects of the fiscal disaster that was occurring in Nevis during NRP’s tenure. Instead of grant ( free money ) assistance, one loan was extended to Labor’s debt-ridden coalition partner in the amount of $3 million to assist in the construction of the Nevis Performing Arts Centre. Many have argued that the Labor Government’s refusal to provide its coalition partner the critical budget support that was needed in combination with attempts to rig the election in the Labor government’s Federal Elections office in Nevis contributed more than any other single factor to the NRP’s removal from office and the loss of the Prime Minister’s direct control over the governance of Nevis. The painful lessons that should have been learned from these devastating losses appear to be fully lost on our Prime Minister. His unrelenting determination to use and abuse the power of his office to frustrate the will of the People of Nevis have driven him to extend his reach by engaging in acts of reprisal against the newly-elected CCM government. His fiscally reckless decision to allow Treasury bonds issued by his own NRP coalition partner to default, rather than approving a federal guarantee, is mind-boggling for a government of Basseterre that he claims is recording an all-time record-high budget surplus. Not for a fleeting moment has it occurred to him that destroying the good credit of Nevis by defaulting on the Treasury bonds issued by the NRP-led government has the potential for harming both islands when future bond issues are commingled and rated as junk, attracting higher rates of interest. Against this backdrop we now hear the plaintive cries for consultations. More consultations are nearly always preferred to less. But, to date all consultations with the Honorable Prime Minister regarding Nevis’ fair share of the allocation of the Nation’s resources have proven to be littered with empty promises that are deemed to be of little worth. It matters not whether these consultations are with his own NRP coalition partner or with the ruling CCM government. The stakes this time are higher than has been the case before. At issue, is Nevis’ pro-rata population-based fair share of the $311.9 million ( inclusive of a projected $141 million for 2012 ) of on-going grant budget funding that has been reported in federal budget documents under the Citizenship for Investment Program. For the interval, 2003 to 2012, this amounts to a fair-share funding pay-out, to which Nevis is entitled, in the amount of $77.8 million. It represents a convenient starting point for any consultations with the Prime Minister. Now that our Honorable Prime Minister claims that his cup runneth over, any consultations must also address the persistent grabbing of free grant funding from OECD countries that continue to pour into Basseterre. For the truncated interval 2006 to 2009, the OECD reports that 80 projects were funded in the Federation of St.Kitts and Nevis with grant disbursements of $196 million. Of this total, Nevis’ fair population-based pro rata share amounts to $49 million. Serving as middle-man for the transfer of a few laptops from a wealthy country donor to Nevisian first and second formers is greatly appreciated. But, this windfall gain of approximately $167,000, valued at the wholesale level, for 418 Dell 3330 13-inch laptop computers pales in comparison to Nevis’ rightful share of the $77.8 million to which it is entitled from the Citizenship for Investment Program and the $49 million from the OECD donor countries. Many would recall the Prime Minister’s trip to Nevis in November of 1999, on the day after Hurricane Lenny struck. He came empty-handed. He saw first-hand the magnitude and scope of the damage done to our flagship Four Seasons Resort, displacing 420 workers. He promised that the Federal Government would assist the NIA. But, as the millions of dollars poured in from Taiwan and other sources, he grabbed it all for the development of St.Kitts and St.Kitts alone. Many would also recall the events surrounding the closure of the resort in October of 2008 after Hurricane Omar struck. Joint cabinet meetings between the NRP and Labor did nothing for expediting the delivery of severance payments to displaced workers. For six long years, our hopes and dreams were shattered as the Prime Minister seized every opportunity for invoking his ALL-FOR-ST.KITTS NOTHING-FOR-NEVIS rule on his own NRP coa
lition partner. Any serious discussions between the Labor Government and the newly-elected CCM government must begin with what divides us. A legally-binding contractual arrangement that provides for reparations to the Government and the People of Nevis in the amount of $126.8 million provides a convenient starting point.