St. Kitts – Nevis Nationals In St. Maarten
Photo By Erasmus Williams
Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
January 25, 2009 (CUOPM)
The St. Kitts – Nevis Labour Governmen’s policy of soliciting the views of nationals in the disapora in the decision making process and shaping of plans and programmes aimed at enhancing the quality of life of all citizens and residents will continue.
Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas and other Ministers of the Cabinet consider contact not only with residents at home important but also with those overseas and make it a priority to meet with Kittitians and Nevisians as well as their national associations in town-hall style meetings when visiting the various capitals on official business.
Most recent visits were during worldwide celebrations to mark the 25th Anniversary of St. Kitts and Nevis Independence and recent significant discussions included the issue of Electoral Reform.
Overseas nationals continue to have close contact with family and sending remittances home, own homes, land and businesses.
Despite calls from the political leader of the opposition People’s Action Movement (PAM), Mr. Lindsay Grant and his party to disenfranchise citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis living overseas who are already on the Voter’s List by making them ineligible to register to vote and to vote by imposing a three-month or six-month residency requirement prior to registering or voting, Prime Minister Douglas adhered to the voices of a majority of persons during the national consultation on electoral reform and kept their constitutional right intact.
The St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Government aware of the important role returning nationals have played in the socio-economic development of St. Kitts and Nevis established the Returning Nationals Secretariat in the Office of the Prime Minister to facilitate the smooth flow of essential information, to provide critical guidance and to help curtail the red-tape associated with relocating and making their resettlement process less stressful.
The Secretariat gives assistance to nationals who are eligible to receive duty-free concessions on selected personal and household items imported into the country and also provides information on investment, land and home ownership and counselling if necessary.
Since taking office, Prime Minister Douglas’ appeal to nationals living overseas to return home upon retirement and assist in the economic, social, cultural and political development of the twin-island Federation has been largely successful.
Several who have returned are assisting in various ways including teaching at schools and the Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College (CFBC), lecturing at medical schools, providing professional skills in the private sector and establishing their own businesses.
Prime Minister Douglas told overseas nationals recently, that although they no longer live permanently in St. Kitts and Nevis, “our bonds of kinship and origin transcend both distance and time,” and it was important that he speaks with them during this time of global tumult.