PM Douglas Denzil – St. Kitts – Nevis
Photo By Erasmus Williams
Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
December 16, 2009 (CUOPM)
A massive crowd gathered at a public meeting in Upper Cayon, greeted St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas less than an hour after he announced in a nationwide broadcast that the National Assembly had been dissolved.
The crowd went wild as word spread that the charismatic Labour Party leader had arrived. As Dr. Douglas passed through the thick crowd, the young people went into a frenzy and maintained the carnival-like atmosphere during the rest of the meeting, especially when the Prime Minister made his presentation.
Earlier in his radio and television broadcast carried live on several radio stations and video and audio stream via the internet, Prime Minister Douglas applauded his Ministerial colleagues for rolling up their sleeves and working in defence of the twin-island Federation.
“Today the range and variety of employment and entrepreneurial opportunities in St. Kitts Nevis are vaster and more varied than at any time in our history. Single handedly, the Labour Government transformed a traditional sugar mono-culture economy into a far more diversified ““ and therefore far more resilient, economy based on non-sugar agriculture, light manufacturing, air-based tourism, cruise-based tourism, financial services, and information technology,” said Prime Minister Douglas.
He singled out the manufacturing sector’s exports to the United States, which he praised for outpacing the other OECS partners.
“The minimum wage in St. Kitts and Nevis is higher than any in the OECS – and is one of the highest in CARICOM,” said Dr. Douglas.
He reiterated that spending in St. Kitts and Nevis by cruise ship passengers is greater than that in any other island state in the region and at a time when major investment projects are, understandably, closing down both throughout the region and around the world, investment projects in St. Kitts and Nevis namely the Oceans Edge, Silver Reef, Christophe Harbour, Beaumont Park are continuing to move forward thus providing income, increasing spending power, and injecting capital into the economy.
“We have committed ourselves, not only to providing income-generating opportunities for our people, but we have also ensured that the basket of goods that make up their daily expenditures are affordable. And we have done this by successfully controlling the cost of some 40 food and non-food essential items,” said Dr. Douglas.
The agricultural sector has expanded dramatically, with production increasing some 600% between 2001 and 2008.
“The nation’s farmers, once on the periphery of our economy, are now serious business men and women, supplying both the local market and large hotels, and generating considerable income in the process,” said Dr. Douglas.
He said that taxi drivers and others associated with the tourism industry continue to profit from 500,000 cruise ship passengers arriving here annually.
Government policies and programs have resulted in extreme poverty plummeting from 11 percent in 2001 to 1.4 percent in 2008.
He noted that in an innovative approach to crime-fighting, second-chance job-skills training has been provided to some 1,000 young people.
“We have established a skills-expansion secondary high school that will enable nationals of this Federation to reap the considerable income-generating opportunities associated with our new and transformed economy,” Prime Minister Douglas told the Nation.
He said that his Government understands the importance of a multi-sectoral approach to crime fighting, and has aggressively promoted the formation of strategic anti-crime alliances throughout the Federation, the region and the world, while investing heavily in training, equipment and infrastructure upgrades.
“We are pleased to report that we have been successful in reducing crime in all categories except gang violence, and on this front remain relentless in our efforts to bend the trajectory downwards as well,” said Dr. Douglas.