BASSETERRE, St. Kitts -– The much improved relationship that now exists between the Federal Government and the Nevis Island Administration (NIA), as well as the benefits derived from such a relationship, was the focal point of remarks delivered by Premier the Honourable Mark Brantley at the “Community Consultations” town hall meeting held at the St. Paul’s Anglican Church Hall in Nevis on Feb. 18.
“The relationship between St. Kitts and Nevis has never been better,” explained Brantley. “It is the best that it has been in the history of this country…and as someone who has been in the middle of it, both from the Nevis end as Premier and sitting in the Federal Cabinet, I can tell you that there has been a genuine effort to meet the needs of all the people of the country and to provide in a way that all the people of the country can benefit. I think that that, more than anything else, is to me of tremendous significance.”
The Premier reminded the country of the hardships and difficulties suffered by the people of Nevis because of the poor relationship that existed between the NIA and the former Denzil Douglas administration, making specific mention of the April 2014 situation where civil servants on Nevis went unpaid.
“That was not just a function of the NIA having financial difficulty; that was a direct consequence of a bad relationship between St. Kitts and Nevis, of decisions being made on Church Street [Basseterre] calculated to hurt the people of Nevis,” said Brantley. “I am very proud to say that through this Team Unity arrangement that has not happened again.
“I am proud to go further and to say that we have ushered into being this new paradigm of governance which has ensured that it will never happen again,” he said. “I hold no water in my mouth when I say the relationship is the best that it has ever been in the history of this country.”
Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, while delivering remarks at the town hall meeting, agreed wholeheartedly with the sentiments expressed by Premier Brantley on the strong relationship between the two governments.
“Going way back since 1980, you can’t contemplate a time in the politics of Nevis or in the politics of St. Kitts when you could have gone into the election in Nevis highlighting what has been done through the federal entity,” said Dr. Harris. “It took a change, a new Team Unity administration with a new philosophy, with a new vision of empowerment across the divide to bring Nevis into a genuine federal relationship.”
Since assuming office, the Team Unity administration has provided budgetary support to the Nevis Island Administration annually. In his 2019 Budget Presentation, Prime Minister Harris announced budgetary support to the NIA for $30 million.
“Just today the Federal Cabinet met in Nevis. That may seem to some purely symbolic but it is important symbolism…It was the Federal Cabinet’s choosing to meet on the island of Nevis and to have its deliberations here.
“It was an historic day because we met and received a report from the National Marijuana Commission…the fact that that happened is symbolic in my view of the relationship that has been developed and is now on full display,” he said.
The Premier listed a number of areas to remind the people of Nevis of how they have benefited from the relationship between the Nevis Island Administration and the Federal Government in the past four years.
He pointed to the water taxi pier under construction at Oualie; the advancements made in the geothermal project; the construction of the Nevis Athletic Stadium at Low Ground; refurbishment of the runway, and the installation of modern equipment at the Air Traffic Control Tower at the Vance W. Amory International Airport; construction of a new wing at the Alexandra Hospital; equipment for the Long Point Port; a new generator for the Nevis Electricity Company Limited, construction of the new Treasury building in Charlestown and the ongoing water project unfolding throughout Nevis.
Brantley added that through the relationship the people of Nevis have also benefited like their counterparts in St. Kitts, from three successive double salary payments to public servants.
The Premier also urged persons to take advantage of opportunities which continue to come about through the progress in the Federation.
“I want our people to stop seeing themselves purely as ‘I’m Nevisian and I’m Kittitian’,,” Brantley said. “Our people need to get to the point where we grab opportunity wherever it arises in our country. When we sit down as a Cabinet, we are looking at the country and saying that opportunity must be provided for every person and wherever they are they must be willing to seize the opportunity.
“That is my simple message to you that ultimately, if Unity is to fulfil its purpose, it must be that our people start to see themselves as having the capacity and the ability to take advantage of every single opportunity,” he said.