By Anna C | on April 18, 2022
BASSETERRE, St Kitts, CMC – Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris has been given a deadline to resolve the issues facing the coalition Team Unity government or dissolve Parliament and pave the way for fresh general elections as the rift within the administration widens.
Nevis Premier and leader of the Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM), Mark Brantley in a television broadcast on Saturday night, said that Harris had done nothing to resolve the issues in the public domain regarding the government.
The coalition government comprises Harris’s People’s Labour Party (PLP), the People’s Action Movement (PAM), and Brantley’s CCM. In his broadcast, Brantley said that he and PAM leader and Deputy Prime Minister Shawn Richards had sent a joint letter to Harris giving him the Wednesday deadline and insisting that the coalition would not be used for the personal ambition of anyone individual.
“To this end and consistent with our own ongoing efforts to save our Team Unity government, the Honourable Shawn Richards and I have delivered a written communication to the Honourable Prime Minister setting our position for a path forward.”
“We have taken the unprecedented step of putting a deadline of Wednesday, April 20, 2022, for a response from the Prime Minister, bearing which we can only conclude that he and his team have no interest or desire to save this Team Unity government. “We shall therefore know by Wednesday whether we can achieve resolution or whether we face dissolution,” Brantley told the nation.
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”.
Harris said issues confronting the government related to governance and transparency, a reassignment of ministerial duties, the external involvement of global financial institutions, and an increase in the operating budget of Nevis, were among the matters on the agenda.
“The meeting was cordial as was the one held last week,” he said, noting that at the Thursday meeting he had proposed a framework to address the issues raised.
“This framework included the introduction of a code of conduct for the better functioning of the cabinet. I further proposed that all subject to greater accountability to the cabinet through regular reporting so that members may be better apprised of the workings of the entire government,” Harris said, addressing briefly talk of a cabinet reshuffle and issues related to the powers wielded by the Prime Minister’s office within the Team Unity framework.
“I committed to undertake a review of the makeup of the cabinet in due course, with a view to improving the 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,” he said.
In his televised address, Harris told the nation that the government has sought external input from the World Bank regarding the issue of the equitable distribution of the Citizenship By Investment (CBI) revenue.
Under the CBI program, foreign investors are granted citizenship in return for making a significant contribution to the socio-economic development of the twin-island Federation.
“Progress has been made with the World Bank giving its consent to undertake a study to advise equitable revenue-sharing arrangements between the federal government and the Nevis Island Administration,” Harris said, announcing also the approval of a national operating budget increase for Nevis.
But Brantley in his 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.