Honourable Mark Brantley, the representative for Nevis #9 in the National Assembly of St. Kitts and Nevis, has endorsed the Saint Christopher and Nevis (Tenure of Office of Prime Minister) (Amendment) Bill, 2019, which was tabled for its second reading on Thursday.
While addressing the parliament on Thursday, Honourable Brantley, who is also the Premier of Nevis, commended Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris for moving the Bill through the Honourable House.
“It is rare Mr. Speaker, that anybody in a seat of power, privilege and prestige is minded to lead the charge to limit that power, privilege and prestige. It goes against the grain of human nature,” he said. “But here we have a prime minister who is saying that this amendment will apply to me, and also will apply to whosoever may come.”
He added that the amendment, the first constitutional amendment to be made since St. Kitts and Nevis gained sovereignty in 1983, will help to promote good governance.
“It forces the government and a leader to start to work from day one because if he or she is to have a legacy, he or she understands they do not have the luxury of 20 or 30 years,” he said describing it as a “proud day” for the parliament.
Debate on the second reading of the Saint Christopher and Nevis (Tenure of Office of Prime Minister) (Amendment) Bill, 2019, continues Friday.
PM: Term Limits will Improve Democracy, Encourage Succession Planning
The tabling of the bill to establish term limits for the holder of the Prime Minister is about ensuring the governance of St. Kitts and Nevis is responsive and relevant to the needs of the people according to the Prime Minister.
“When leaders know they have a limited time to achieve for the people they are incentivized to do the reforms, and those reforms…will only benefit the people of St. Kitts and Nevis. This Bill further broadens the quality of democracy in our Federation as it means now they are going to be held accountable by the people,” he said.
The prime minister stated that the legislative reform would promote succession planning that will allow the next generation to take the mantle of leading St. Kitts and Nevis forward.
“This legislation is about making sure that the Office of the Prime Minister will always be a vibrant one of new, modern and healthy perspectives,” he said.
The Bill, which had its first reading on February 21, 2018, seeks to amend Section 52, which is concerned with the appointment of Ministers. Specifically, it proposes the insertion of two new subsections, stating in 52 (2) A that, “Notwithstanding subsection 52 (2), a Representative shall not hold office as Prime Minister for more than two terms, whether or not served consecutively” and stating in 52 (2) (B) that, “In this section, a ‘term’ refers to the period provided for in section 31 of the Constitution.” Section 31 is concerned with the Tenure of Office of Representatives and Senators.
“This Bill is an historic one. It is an historic Bill because it represents the first real attempt to bring Constitutional change since the Independence Constitutional Order of 1983. Today Team Unity makes history in being the first to actually propose real and substantive change to the Constitution of 1983. This is an historic Bill because today the smallest country, indeed the smallest nation state in the Americas, is leading on fundamental matters of governance – the tenure of office of the head of government,” said Prime Minister Harris Thursday.
The prime minister, who is the mover of the Bill, said the tabling of the legislation was fundamental to his good governance agenda which the people of St. Kitts and Nevis voted for in Feb. 2015.
“We are bringing the Bill in keeping with the transformational agenda that gave birth to Team Unity and it is that transformational agenda that has kept Team Unity safely and securely together for nigh these five years. That transformational agenda of good governance and prosperity for all received the full endorsement of an electorate that was convinced that the former administration had outlived its useful life and was out of touch with the soul of the nation, the ethos of what ought to be an evolving participatory democracy,” he said.
“We could look to the great United States of America, long regarded as the beacon of democracy, where there is term limits…and in their view that was healthy to participatory democracy. In their view it allowed a breath of fresh air to come into the body politic and to take America higher in its call to greatness,” the prime minister said, adding the administration fulfilled its promise to bring the legislation to the National Assembly and “it is now time for the Members of Parliament to support the people by giving consent to this Bill, which is deserving of their fullest support and commendation.”