By LR Liburd
The St. Kitts-Nevis Observer
Once again, the issue of double salary being paid to Nevis’ Premier the Hon. Vance Amory and his Deputy, the Hon. Mark Brantley, has surfaced and Prime Minister Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris has declared that it is not unconstitutional.
He made this declaration during his presentation at the Team Unity Administration’s recent town hall meeting at the McKnight Community in which he thanked the two politicians for coming onboard the Team Unity Movement and the people of Nevis for their support.
The double salary issue has always been criticised by the St. Kitts and Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) and the Nevis Reformation Party (NRP).
In his address at the town hall meeting Dr. Harris, among other things, said: “They were prepared to everything to negate the will of the people of St. Kitts and Nevis for change. It didn’t work and because it didn’t work they suddenly woke up with new ideas about participation in Federal Government. And I say to them, it benefited Parry and Patrice. Nothing was wrong with serving in local and serving in federal, suddenly all of a sudden it burns them.”
On the following during a protest march by the SKNLP, Opposition Leader the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas voiced his displeasure in the two Nevisian politicians being paid double salary.
“With double salary every month, people here can’t even get one week’s wage, and with their forwardness telling us we can’t march. We gon march in support of them, in solidarity with the people of Nevis, against the double salary of Mark Brantley and Vance Amory. Taking two salaries every month and poor people here can’t go home with one weeks’ wage.”
However, in his presentation, PM Harris stated that it was not unlawful for Amory and Brantley to be in receipt of salaries from the Nevis Island Administration and the Federal Government.
“No law is being broken! The Constitution provided for it, and yes we have a unique situation in the Caribbean and the world. It’s not just 113 that’s unique, the Constitution of the land which they cherished, which time after time Parry and Patrice and Daniel took an oath to abide by, says that Vance, if he so chooses, can run in Nevis and can run in St Kitts. If they so believe in what they are saying now, then cousin Parry call on Patrice to resign his seat and never to participate in the Federal Election. Parry run, served locally, and served federally, nothing wrong with that. Well, how come all of a sudden Local Elections coming up Parry suddenly a get up when he a man nah go no way?”
Back in January, while a guest on the Team Unity Government’s weekly radio programme ‘Working for You’, Brantley was asked by host Lesroy Williams about the privileges he enjoys in having two jobs.
In response, he indicated that the positions come with responsibility and representation, as he was “not selected but elected for these roles”, for it was the people who elected him.
Brantley was adamant that the two positions demanded two payments and that he was puzzled by the noise and clamour coming from the Opposition.
Brantley pointed out that Hensley Daniel and Patrice Nisbett had the same ambitions but it had not worked out for them, and that it was “all much ado about nothing”.
He also stated that in 20 years of being in power the Douglas-led Administration did not initiate any constitutional reform if they were serious about changing the status quo.
In a recent interview with Winn FM, Brantley said he was giving both jobs maximum attention and receiving appropriate remuneration. He also used the opportunity to denounce the NRP’s criticism, contending that the opposition party was being hypocritical because its members were engaged in similar activity in the past.
In addition to his functions as Premier of Nevis, the Hon. Vance Amory holds the portfolios of Senior Minister and Minister of Labour, Social Security and Ecclesiastical Affairs in the Team Unity Government, while the Hon. Mark Brantley functions as Deputy Premier and holds the portfolios of Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs and Aviation.
Meanwhile, in his comments at the town hall meeting on the performance of Amory and Brantley, PM Harris said: “They are very active in this Administration. Not for themselves, but for the Federation as a whole. And you can see by their performance how the two islands, not one, are now benefitting. You could see the new atmosphere, in new friendship, in new love between the people of St. Kitts and Nevis.”
He continued: “We have to praise them for bringing their talents to St. Kitts and Nevis. We have to praise them for making the sacrifice of coming to lend contribution to the prosperity agenda of St. Kitts and Nevis. And I say thank you Premier and the people of Nevis for understanding. They are working hard and they are doing very, very well, and they deserve every cent that is being paid to them because their service has been of excellence to the people of St. Kitts and Nevis.”