By Steve Thomas
Observer Nevis Editor
(Charlestown, Nevis) – On July 10, Premier Joseph Parry gave a televised speech reviewing the efforts of the Nevis Reformation Party Government, which has held office for two years.
At the request of The Observer, the Opposition Leader, Mr. Mark Brantley, offered his comments on the NRP’s performance in office.
Mr. Brantley’s remarks are published below:
I have seen the comments by the Honourable Premier on the occasion of the second anniversary of his NRP led Administration. I congratulate the NRP on its second anniversary but believe at the end of the day, the people of Nevis will have to answer a very basic question asked the world over of any Government: “Are we better off under NRP than we were under the CCM led Administration?” That is where the rubber meets the road. Specifically I say this:
i. Nevis now has more roads under NRP but no idea of the true debt incurred to construct those roads. The NRP has been deafeningly silent on the true cost to the taxpayer of several of these infrastructural projects.
ii. There is unprecedented increase in the cost of living, a fact ignored by Premier Parry in his address, but a matter which impacts every single person living on the island. The NRP campaigned saying that they would bring prices down. To the contrary prices have skyrocketed under the NRP.
When the CCM warned that the fuel surcharge would have a spiraling effect on the cost of living, the NRP plunged ahead regardless. In relation to the new property tax regime which has seen some people’s tax bill triple and quadruple, we equally warned against such a tax at this time when economic conditions were especially harsh and again the NRP plunged ahead. After two years of this NRP Government and the crippling cost of living, the people of Nevis must say whether they feel they are better off under this NRP than they were two years ago.
iii. It would have been good if Premier Parry had used his time to say something about the deal concluded with West Indies Power (“WIP”) as to Nevis’ geothermal energy which his Junior Minister Powell has infamously described as “just a handshake”. It would have been good if he had used his time to tell the Nevisian people a bit about who or what truly is WIP and who it is that the NRP is doing business with. The Nevisian public must ask some very relevant questions: Under what law did the NRP conclude a license with WIP in January, 2007 when they only passed the Geothermal Ordinance in
July, 2008? Why on a matter so critical to Nevis was there no public consultation on the Bill and Opposition members got it just a couple of days before the debate? Why the rush on a matter so critical? Who gave the NRP technical advice on their deal with WIP concluded in January, 2007? Who are the real investors in WIP? What experience does WIP have in geothermal exploration and development? And why, why on earth would the NRP limit the royalties that Nevis and Nevisians can get to “no more than 5 percent” and even then only after WIP generates and sells more than 10MW of power? Nevisians must not fall for the hype surrounding geothermal. They must ask the hard questions and they will quickly realize that the NRP concluded a sweetheart deal with these foreign investors without any bids, without any technical advice and without any law authorizing them to do so all to the direct detriment of the people of Nevis. We must ask ourselves why??? Passing the Geothermal Ordinance in July of 2008 makes absolutely no sense when the NRP has already given away Nevis’ geothermal resource to a foreign company with unknown and undisclosed investors.
iv. Premier Parry continues to minimize the critical problem of violent crime that has gripped the island and instilled fear in our people. While the Opposition refuses to politicize the issue of crime, we will continue to insist that the Government both at the local and Federal levels shoulder the responsibility in partnership with us and civil society to fashion solutions to this terrible problem. The time of pretending that the problem does not exist or lambasting Opposition members who dare to point out the
obvious is long gone. St. Kitts and Nevis has a serious problem with violent crime and we must admit it, own it and get together to solve it. To this end, the Opposition shall shortly send its views and recommendations to the Prime Minister and the Premier as we firmly believe in partnership to eradicate this scourge.
v. I had also hoped that Premier Parry would say a word as to the cost to the Nevisian taxpayer of the new drag racing strip being constructed in St. James and how it is that the NRP can find money for this huge infrastructural undertaking when Nevis does not have a proper ambulance or fire truck to serve the needs of our people.
Our people are accustomed to better governance than this and must now conclude that after two years of this NRP, the change of government on July 10th, 2006 was and continues to be a failed experiment where incompetence, unadulterated greed, naked nepotism and poor decision making have become the order of the day in our beloved Nevis.