First Steps Toward Openness A press release from the Communications Office of the Prime Minister included the following statement: “Dr. Douglas said “Ask the Prime Minister,” is one of a series of ongoing programmes of transparency, good governance and accountability to interact with the people initiated by his St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party Government since it took office in July 1995.” The press release was referring to a newly-launched radio call in show featuring the prime minister. And while on the subject of transparency, Premier Joseph Parry of the Nevis Island Administration met with several members of the local press on the afternoon of Oct. 22 and said his government would be more open to media coverage. These actions by Prime Minister Douglas and Premier Parry are welcomed by all those who believe that democracy is best served when the public is fully informed by a free and unfettered press about the activities of government. We hope that Dr. Douglas” radio show and Premier Parry’s pledge of more openness are just the first steps toward more open and accessible government in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis. The Observer will continue to monitor, report and comment on this topic. Geothermal Deal And Public Input More good news for Nevis on the geothermal energy development project: A third live steam well was opened this week by West Indies Power, Ltd., the company handling the exploration and development of this resource. The Nevis Island Administration is preparing to enter into negotiations with WIP on the sale of electricity produced by plants powered by geothermal energy. This technology should eventually cut the need to utilize the diesel generation plant, reduce the cost to consumers for their electricity and provide Nevis with revenue from the sale of energy to St. Kitts and other entities. All parties have acknowledged that geothermal energy is a resource belonging to all Nevisians and, as such, the people of Nevis should expect fair payment for it. It’s equally important to note that WIP, which has assumed the risk and supplied the expertise to harness this resource, is entitled to fair payment, too. Deciding what is fair will be at the heart of the negotiations between the NIA and WIP. We recognize that the negotiations will be conducted in private. That is standard procedure in most deals between government and private industry. What we suggest is that when the negotiations are complete, the NIA allow the public 30 days to review and comment on the contract, then give themselves another 30 days to evaluate public comments before taking a bill to the assembly. While we recognize this will give the opposition ample time to find reasons to criticize the deal, we believe the positive benefits of allowing the public to weigh in on this matter will transcend any petty partisan bickering. The contract for the sale of geothermal-generated electricity may be one of the most important negotiations undertaken by the Nevis Island Administration. If there was ever something that cried out for public input, this is it.
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