By LR Liburd
The St. Kitts-Nevis Observer
Nevis’ Premier and Leader of the Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM), the Hon. Vance Amory declared that the objective of the tri-party Team Unity Government is to provide a better life for the people of the twin-island Federation by changing the culture of graft, handouts and corruption experienced over some two decades during the former Administration.
Premier Amory was at the time addressing a large gathering at the most recent ongoing Team Unity’s town hall meeting held at the McKnight Community Centre on Thursday (Sept. 8).
“One of the important things is for us to recognise that the Team Unity Government, elected by you, was elected to change the culture from the last 20 years; a culture of graft, a culture of handouts, but to do more than that. You elected us to work for you, to provide services for you so that you can have a better life in the land in which you live.
“That really is the objective of Team Unity; nothing more, nothing less. That is what we came to you and said to you that we want you to do…the change, the culture of corruption which all of us know existed. All of us know what was going on; graft, handouts, money for the boys and money for the supporters. And once we have established that, I want us to look at where you want your Team Unity to take you and how you want your Team Unity to function. And clearly I don’t expect you want us to function in the same way. Once we have established that, I think we are on to a good path.”
The Nevisian Political Leader also told the gathering that with their support and encouragement, Team Unity’s job is to do things in a way that should make everyone in St. Kitts and Nevis a better citizen.
With the Government’s plans for the celebration of 33 years since gaining Independence from Britain just a few days away, Amory beseeched his audience to reflect on the country’s motto.
“We will be celebrating our 33rd year of Independence in a few days and I want us to refresh our mind to the motto of our country, Country Above Self. And I want to say that if each one of us in our little corner, in our jobs, in our shops as employees of large establishments or small establishments, as employees of government or if you are self-employed, if each one of us decides that we will do what we can to make this country better, I want to suggest to you that we can have one of the best countries in the world.”
Amory stressed that St. Kitts and Nevis is a small nation but it has talented people. He pointed out the country has resources, which if wisely used, could enable the nation to become and maintain its prosperity.
“When the Prime Minister comes to speak to you, he will no doubt speak to you about the economic growth in St. Kitts and Nevis. And I am sure he will indicate to you that the growth of the economy in St. Kitts and Nevis, not by his account but by account of the Central Bank, account of the World Bank, by account of the IMF and the Caribbean Development Bank, that the performance of St. Kitts and Nevis is outstripping all the other countries in the OECS region. That is because we are able as a government to maintain and put in place policies which are good for the development of this country,” he added.
Premier Amory, who holds the portfolio of of Senior Minister and Minister of Social Security in the Federal Government, emphatically declared that the Social Security Fund was mismanaged by the previous Administration.
“We have over the years looked at our Social Security Fund and how, in our opinion in Team Unity, there was significant mismanagement of that Fund. Significant mismanagement of the Fund to the point where the Director and the Board are indicating to me as Minister that they have had to write down over $70 million as bad debt, and that is only one part.
“That was because the Social Security Fund was seen by the Douglas Administration almost like a slush fund. They gave instructions without significant considerations for the benefit or the good sense of what was being considered.”
He stated that in the near future Team Unity intends to go to Parliament with the Actuarial figures for the Social Security Fund “and you will get a clear picture of where we are coming from or what we have had to deal with, with that Fund”.
Addressing the topic of Nation Building, Amory stressed on the implementation of positive plans and policies while indicating that the Douglas Administration and the Nevis Reformation Party had placed a heavy debt burden on the nation.
“The key to good and serious development of our country is to have sound policies and sound plans. Not ad hoc plans, not plans to help people who are supporters of the party, and that is the only basis.
“I want you to bear with me because I have responsibility for finances in Nevis and I know what transpired under the NRP Government; the serious increase in debt, the graft and corruption which took place. So when you hear them on the radio talking about the CCM Administration there and the Team Unity Government, just remember that they brought us to the brink of serious debt in this country. And when the Opposition of the day in 2004, and I think it might have been the Hon. Lindsay Grant, asked about the debt at some meeting, we know what Douglas said about the National Debt. We know the advice which was being given from preventing the National Debt from becoming a burden to the people of St. Kitts and Nevis and we saw where we went…having to go to the IMF, having to impose serious takes on the people of our country, having to impose a VAT of 17% on everything, having our people in the Public Service to give up their increments for years. These are serious concerns which we must not forget.”
He reminded the gathering that the presenters were at the town hall meeting to discuss what Team Unity had accomplished since taking office in 20115, as well as for them to recognise from whence they came and what caused them to be where they are.
Premier Amory claimed that Team Unity is contending with the above mentioned issues in order to restore good governance.
“Your Team Unity Government is grappling with those issues to rectify and restore the confidence of the people of this country in good governance in doing things correctly, in proper policies, in transparency because those are the things which get us to the state of prosperity which we desire for all the people of St. Kitts and Nevis.”