PM Douglas Dislikes Media Coverage Over $91 Million Dollar Check

St. Kitts - Nevis' PM - Dr. Denzil Douglas

St. Kitts – Nevis’ PM – Dr. Denzil Douglas
Photo By Erasmus Williams

Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
October 19, 2010 (CUOPM)

The St. Kitts and Nevis Media has an obligation to ensure it is not distracted from its responsible role that has been given to it by society.

This is the view of St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Hon. Dr. the Hon. Denzil L. Douglas in winding up his monthly Press Conference.

“The press has a duty to enlighten people, to bring (credible) information to people, information that should be gleaned in pursuing questions which are sensible and which can evoke appropriate answers,” Dr. Douglas told the local media practitioners.

“If it is one government that is very open to the Press is this Government. If it is one Prime Minister in the Caribbean, that is open to the Press is this Prime Minister,” said Dr. Douglas, who added: “There has been no letting up on the 16 years that I have been around in bringing information to the public.”

Prime Minister Douglas pointed out that when his St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party Administration took office in July 1995, there were just three radio stations.

“I, as the Prime Minister and Minister of Information at different times have opened up the media. Now more than seven licenses have been granted for new radio stations and licenses have been given to newspapers,” said Dr. Douglas, adding:  “You now have the electronic news media ““ several internet service providers which were not there before.”

Prime Minister Douglas said his Government is “proud of its record in terms of bringing information to the public and bringing information to the public even when the press may not be doing it in the way that we believe it should be done. We find our own means of bringing information to the public.”

“When the Press is going to be distracted over a period of time – weeks and months, over a ridiculous statement that there is a check of $91 million in Basseterre, when Italy forgave a debt, it evokes quite a lot of emotion in people as it makes no sense,” said the St. Kitts and Nevis leader.

The Prime Minister was reacting to a media practitioner asking him at the Press Conference about a $91 million check his government had received.

Dr. Douglas labeled as “ridiculous” similar statements by a Nevisian Washington-based economist, Dr. Everson Hull; the Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Mark Brantley; the opposition Democrat newspaper, The People’s Action Movement and members to the press to be giving the public an impression that his Government received a $91 million check when the Italian government entity, SACE, forgave a multi-million dollar debt incurred by the previous PAM Administration of Dr. Kennedy Simmonds.

“In all of my life, I have never heard of people having debt forgiveness and then paying you a check. It is so ridiculous. That is why I said that it really amusing that a responsible press could really waste so much of people’s good time to peddle ridiculous statements about somebody getting a $91 million check,” said Prime Minister at Wednesday’s Press Conference when ask about check by a journalist.

The rounds of the $91 million check began with Nevis-born Washington-based Economist, Dr. Everson Hull sending an email on the St Kitts-Nevis List on August 31 under the subject: HELP ME FIND THE MISSING $90,865,590 DEBT FORGIVENESS ITALIAN CHECK”

Dr. Hull stated that the World Bank and the OECD are reporting disbursements for 2008 in the amount of $90,865,590 from Italy to the People of St.Kitts and Nevis to help defray the cost of our run-away debt burden. This check does not belong to Labor. I am trying to find anybody who has seen the check, who can tell whether this check arrived in Basseterre; and whether Douggie sent any portion of the check to Parry to help him reduce his outstanding debt which has now escalated to an unconscionable 258 percent of GDP.

Dr. Hull continued: “I do not want to believe that Douggie would grab all $91 million when he knows darn well and good that 600 Four Seasons workers were displaced, with the closure of the resort drying up the dominant source of revenues to Nevis.  Parry has been out there pleading his heart out issuing Treasury bills to reduce his debt and being rebuffed by investors when one of his Treasury issues was under-subscribed.  Parry needs his share of this free debt forgiveness money to reduce the humongous debt that he  incurred when Douggie refused to endorse a federal guarantee, forcing him out on the street to secure a loan at local retail lending rates for completing  Amory’s Main Road Project. 

I believe that if Parry ever finds out that a $91 million debt forgiveness check arrived in Basseterre that was hidden from him that he would be calling for Independence for Nevis the next morning.”

The issue has been the subject of debate on the various talk shows asking about the $91 million check with little or no effort by the hosts to explain to callers that no check was given to the Government by the Italian Government in a matter of debt forgiveness.

The media were referred to the Attorney General Chambers for information. A statement prepared by the Ministry of Legal Affairs was read by Prime Minister Douglas at Wednesday’s Press Conference in which Prime Minister, in which he said he was amused that “what had started as “mere political propaganda could have really consumed so much time for what is a hard working responsible press.

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