Team Unity’s caretaker for Central Basseterre (St. Christopher Two), Ambassador Jonel Powell, who has been holding weekly one-on-one consultations at the Central Basseterre Constituency office at the corner of Thibou Avenue and Cayon Street every Wednesday, said this week’s consultations saw a much larger turnout and time was extended due to the presence of Prime Minister Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris.
“I see people every Wednesday from 10 to 12 for the morning session and again from 3 to 5 for the afternoon session here in the Constituency Office,” said Mr Powell, who is also the National Chairman of the People’s Action Movement (PAM). “Today certainly had more people than normal. Obviously being the Prime Minister, there are persons who wanted to come out and speak directly to him.”
Prime Minister Harris is the National Political Leader of the Peoples Labour Party (PLP) which along with People’s Action Movement (PAM) and the Nevis-based Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM) form the tri-party Team Unity Administration.
“Today was a good day, certainly for the people of Central Basseterre in particular,” said Ambassador Powell. “Today was a day when we had the privilege of having the Prime Minister come and join me in what has been my weekly one-on-one consultations with constituents.”
While the consultations were due to start at 10 a.m., persons had started arriving at the office as early as 9 a.m. and had their names recorded in the order they arrived. The morning session started at 10 a.m. and broke for lunch at 1 p.m. The afternoon session started at 3 p.m. and wrapped up at 7 p.m. with a number of persons still not having had the chance to talk to the Prime Minister.
“The response was tremendous — my rough count suggests that we would have met close to 100 persons during the course of the day,” said Ambassador Powell. “A lot of persons outside unfortunately were disappointed, understandably so, for not being able to see the Prime Minister today. But he has given an undertaking to come back on another day, so we will figure it out and schedule another day when we can see those persons who did not have the benefit of meeting with us today.”
The majority of the issues generally raised revolved around housing and jobs according to Ambassador Powell. He noted that as much as the country’s economy has been growing, and as much as the country is in a period where there are more employed persons than ever before, there are still a lot of unemployed persons, and the government simply cannot employ everybody.
“We are trying to partner with the private sector to see what opportunities lie there,” he observed. “It is evident that there are a number of opportunities, more and more opportunities, coming up in the tourism industry and so we have been able to direct a number of the individuals to opportunities in that particular sector.”
Ambassador Powell noted that the demand for housing is tremendously greater than the ability of the National Housing Corporation (NHC) to build houses for financial and other reasons.
“But it did give an opportunity for us to educate some of the constituents on loan programmes such as the National Pride Home Mortgage Programme at the St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla National Bank,” he said. “National Pride, which is specially designed for first time homeowners and home builders, offers up to $650,000 at an interest rate of 5 per which is comparable and similar to NHC and many of them were not aware of that. So, we were able to guide them in that direction.”