DPM RICHARDS REFLECTS ON THE MANY ACHIEVEMENTS MADE AS TEAM UNITY OBSERVES ITS FIFTH YEAR ANNIVERSARY

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, September 26, 2018 (Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister)– On September 26, 2013, the political landscape in St. Kitts and Nevis was forever changed, as three political parties – the People’ Action Movement, the Concerned Citizens Movement out of Nevis, and the People’s Labour Party – came together to form the historic Team Unity movement.

The message of a brighter tomorrow promised then by the members of that movement resonated well with the majority of Kittitians and Nevisians, who, on February 16, 2015, spoke loudly when they voted for change and ushered in a new day for St. Kitts and Nevis.

In a national address to mark the fifth year anniversary of the formation of the Team Unity movement, Deputy Minister and Political Leader of the People’s Action Movement, the Honourable Shawn Richards thanked the people of St. Kitts and Nevis for their vote of confidence in the Unity coalition.

“Five years ago today, an enthusiastic crowd representing all ages, political persuasions and walks of life turned out in overwhelming numbers at Greenlands to express a desire for change, better representation and accountability.  It was clear then – as it would become on Election Day 2015 – that Team Unity had sprung up from the experiences, hopes and voices of the ordinary people,” Deputy Prime Minister Richards said.

Minister Richards assured the nation that the Team Unity Government, led by Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, will not let up in serving and empowering the people of the twin island Federation, irrespective of their political persuasions, noting, “We have come too far and achieved too much for you, the people of St. Kitts and Nevis, to stop now.”

The minister added, “We have shown our commitment to working in your best interests by passing the Freedom of Information Bill, bringing the Integrity in Public Life Act into force and operationalizing the Integrity Commission – and we will soon move forward to enact legislation aimed at putting an end to the draconian debtors’ jail. So far this year, we have convened the people’s Parliament seven times.  This stands in sharp contrast to 2014 when there were only three sittings, and the Speaker of the House continued to ignore the Motion of No Confidence.”

Minister Richards further reflected on some of the compassionate policies established under the Team Unity administration to effectively right the wrongs of the ousted Denzil Douglas regime, including the removal of VAT from food, medicines and funeral expenses.

“Who can also forget that, under their lackadaisical watch, St. Kitts and Nevis amassed enormous debt, with the public debt-to-GDP ratio ballooning to roughly 200% at one point? To add insult to injury, between 2011 and 2014, the Douglas regime imposed a wage freeze on civil servants and took away their increments.  In sharp contrast, the Team Unity Government has launched a $30-million-dollar property ownership programme for government employees and paid them a 13-month (double) salary for the past two consecutive years,” said the Honourable Minister.

The People’s Action Movement leader also pointed to the much improved relations that now exist between the Federal Government and the Nevis Island Administration—a hallmark of the historic Charlestown Accord, which the three leaders of the political parties comprising Team Unity signed on December 17th, 2014.

“This has brought newfound equity in the relationship between the Federal entity and the Nevis Island Administration, resulting in regular budgetary support and the SIDF’s funding of projects in Nevis,” the minister observed.

Deputy Prime Minister Richards said since that historic day five years ago, the Team Unity Movement has been building up the nation and creating history with a sense of purpose and justice.

“We are committed to this idea of unity, recognizing that it is bigger than all of us. We also recognize that the vision we had five years ago will always live on inside of us – as long as we stay focused on serving all of the people and ensuring a more cohesive country.”