ST. KITTS/NEVIS | PM Dr. Timothy Harris to Mend Rift in Coalition Government

ST. KITTS/NEVIS | PM Dr. Timothy Harris to Mend Rift in Coalition Government

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts –  There is a rift in Team Unity administration of Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris, which threatens to derail the coalition government and discussions held to date aimed at cauterising the rift, have so far failed.

The coalition leaders comprising Shawn Richards of the People’s Action Movement, Dr. Harris of the People’s Labour Party and Mark Brantley of the Concerned Citizens Movement, met last week to iron out their differences that came to light. Richards and Brantley laid out their plans and gave Prime Minister Harris a week to consider some of their proposals.

Last Thursday, following their latest round of discussions to save the coalition, Prime Minister Harris in a televised broadcast said he remained “fully committed” to bring to an end the rift within his coalition administration insisting that the country “must have a cabinet that is fully committed to addressing the pressing issues that confront our people”.

Dr. Harris revealed that a code of conduct for “the better function of Cabinet” was part of the framework he laid on the table. “I further proposed that all ministries should be subject to greater accountability to the Cabinet through regular reporting so that members may be better apprised,” Harris said.

That announcement comes as it was revealed that members of the Cabinet are not fully aware of the state of the country’s finances, especially the Citizenship By Investment programme.

Under the CBI programme, foreign investors are granted citizenship in return for making a significant contribution to the socio-economic development of the twin-island federation.

 On the issue of fair share of proceeds from the CBI programme for Nevis, Dr. Harris announced that the World Bank has given “its consent to undertake a study to advise on equitable revenue sharing arrangement between the Federal Government and the Nevis Island Administration.

But Nevis Premier and leader of the Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM), Mark Brantley, in a television broadcast ridiculed the prime minister's efforts at getting the Washington-based financial institution to get involved in the issue, saying that any secondary school student could have dealt with the issue.

Nevis Premier and leader of the Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM), Mark BrantleyNevis Premier and leader of the Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM), Mark Brantley“It [boggles] the mind why the Honourable Prime Minister, a trained accountant and highly astute financial manager would continue peddling a notion that we need the World Bank to come in and do a study and to tell us how to calculate the monies received from CBI…"

In responding to a request for portfolios to be reassigned, Prime Minister Harris  said: “I committed to undertake a review of the makeup of the Cabinet in due course, with a view to improving efficiency and effectiveness of the Government as a whole. I made it clear that I could not allow the constitutional prerogative of the Office of the Prime Minister to be diminished.

“In the interim, the budgetary support to our sister island of Nevis has been increased as per the request from the Honourable Premier,” added Harris. The Prime Minister conceded that the recent political events over the last several weeks did create anxiety and discomfort for some in society, and it is against that backdrop he noted that he is committed to bringing the current situation to an end.

Harris said that the country needed a Cabinet that would address pressing issues, such as job creation, cost of living along with peace and security, among others at this time and noted that  he was open for further discussion on the way forward, since not all recommendations put forward could be acted upon.

However, Brantley in his broadcast noted that: “I and my beloved CCM remain fully committed to Team Unity and the ideals which we espoused and which captured the immigration of our people. We believe that unity must not only be a word we often repeat in speeches, but an idea that should be demonstrated with action."

He continued: “We are committed to living in peace and promoting socio-political harmony among our two islands and among our people. Well let there be no doubt that if others within Team Unity construct are unwilling or unable to compromise in the interest of our nation's stability then the CCM and the people of Nevis shall not waiver, we shall not bow, we shall never ever surrender."

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