Dr. Earl Asim Martin – Energy Minister
Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
October 10, 2012 (CUOPM)
Minster of Housing, Public Works, Utilities and Energy, the Hon. Dr. Earl Asim Martin has pointed to scores of projects over the years which have been of immense benefits and an improvement in the quality of life of the people of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis.
Speaking on The St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla National Bank (Vesting in Lands) Bill, 2012, which forms part of the government’s debt restructuring programme in an effort to further reduce the national debt and place the country for a better footing for economic growth and development, Minister Martin, the Parliamentary Representative for St. Christopher 1 (East Basseterre) noted that the issue of the national debt is one which is being discussed in the capitals around the world.
“Wherever you go, whether it is London or Washington, D.C. the national debt is an issue. The Government has invested millions and millions of dollars in the overall development in the infrastructure of the country and the human resources in the nation,” he said.
Dr. Martin pointed out that one just have to look throughout the length and breath of this country to appreciate where the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Government has taken this country when it assumed office in 1995.
“There were serious, serious social problems in the health sector, housing, the police force and the lack of infrastructural development in every area,” he said pointing to the sad state of affairs in the health sector especially at the federation’s hospitals and health centres on the island of St. Kitts.
“You go to the Joseph N. France General Hospital at that time and the situation was deplorable,” said Minister Martin, who held the health portfolio when he took up his first ministerial appointment.
“We had to borrow some of the money to get that (JNF Hospital) upgraded,” said Dr. Martin, who was responsible for the construction of a new Joseph N. France General Hospital and the expansion, renovation of several health centres in Sandy Point, St. Paul’s, Dieppe Bay, Saddlers, Tabernacle, Molinuex, Cayon and St. Peters.
Since taking office in 1995, the old Pogson Hospital in Sandy Point was torn down and totally rebuilt with new services provided to the community of Sandy Point and surrounding areas.
He told fellow parliamentarians financing had to be found for medical equipment and the training of staff.
Dr. Martin made reference to outsiders who praise the quality of service in healthcare at the J.N. France General and who had compared it with others in the region.
“He was able to draw a comparison with what we are doing here and what was happening in other islands. It did not happen overnight. It came because of the capital investment… the initial investment. The money did not drop out of the sky. We had to borrow the money to make that investment in the health sector, not only in the hospitals, but in all health centres,” said Dr. Martin, who pointed also to the scores of persons trained in professional disciplines.
Dr. Martin also pointed out that when the Labour Party took office in July 1995, financing of the School Meals Programme by the World Food Programme came to an end and local financing had to be found to continue it.
Under the previous PAM Administration of Dr. Kennedy Simmonds, children attending schools in the constituency represented by Prime Minister Douglas when he was on the opposition benches were completely left out and denied a hot lunch like children from other schools.
Additional funding had to be found to continue the programme and the cost increased with the inclusion of schools in Newton Ground, St. Paul’s, Dieppe Bay and Saddlers.
“We also looked at the nutritional value of the meals and we sat with the Ministry of Education to plot the way forward and new equipment had to be bought. That was part of the national debt, “Dr. Martin told lawmakers and the nation.
Dr. Marin also pointed to the millions of dollars that had to be borrowed from internal and external sources to provide loans to young Kittitians and Nevisians seeking further tertiary level education at colleges and universities overseas.
He also referred to the huge investment in road construction and maintenance and recalled the previous Simmonds/PAM Administration had refused to include the area from Sandy Point to Cayon via St. Paul’s in a Caribbean Development Bank (CDB-financed Road Improvement Project.
“This Government had to take out additional loans to complete the island main road. These two loans are part of the national debt,” said Dr. Martin, who also pointed to the several hurricanes and a flood which caused severe damage to roads and homes.
“We had to get a loan to effect repairs and improve on the housing stock of the country,” he said.
“The PAM opposition was severely critical of the starter homes that we built to house and shelter those who were displaced in Shadwell, Cayon, Hermitage, Tabernacle, Mansion, Lodge, Newton Ground and St. Paul’s,” said Dr. Martin, who also pointed to the millions that had to be spent on restoring electricity with the planting of new poles and high tension wires that were blown down by hurricanes.
He said revetment work is still continuing with areas in Half Way Tree, New Guinea, Old Road, Conyers and Sandy Point.
Dr. Martin also spoke of the number of recreational facilities built by the Labour Government over the years. These included the Warner Park Cricket Stadium, the new Football Stadium, the Jubilee Stadium which house the state of the art track and field facility as well as those in St. Paul’s, Cayon, Sandy Point, Molineux, Mansion, Newton Ground, Verchild’s, Saddlers, New Town, Pond’s Extension and Conaree.
New Day Care Centres and Community Centres have either been constructed in East Basseterre, Central Basseterre, West Basseterre, Challengers, Old Road, Sandy Point, Newton Ground, St. Paul’s, Dieppe Bay, Saddlers, Molinuex, Tabernacle, Cayon and Conaree.