Submitted By: Erasmus Williams
BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, JULY 12TH 2017 – In the face of deteriorating economic fortunes, high food prices, closes of small businesses and loss of social assistance to the vulnerable, the opposition St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) is promising hope to the people.
SKNLP chairperson and Parliamentary Representative for St. Christopher 2 (Central Basseterre), Hon. Marcella Liburd, has accused the coalition government of Prime Minister Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris of lacking creativity and policies in preventing the suffering of the people and the economic slowdown the federation is experiencing.
She said the removal of the VAT from all food items has had little or no effect on lowering food prices because their costs continue to rise and the Team Unity government is not doing anything to address this issue.
“Regardless of their income, persons have been complaining. If people at the top are saying things are bad with them, could you imagine what is happening with the people who earn minimum wage? Our people are just struggling. Young people persons are been displaced from the PEP. They cannot find work and businesses, small and large, are not doing well and are unable to hire persons,” she told listeners to Wednesday’s edition of the popular Issues programme on Freedom 106.5 FM.
Ms. Liburd related how small providers of cooked food complain that although they have cut back on the volume they still face challenges to getting all sold.
“Small businesses selling clothes and dry goods are bitterly complaining of how the economy is slow. Some have closed their doors and others are even thinking of closing down. Some complain that this is the worst period of doing business in years,” said Liburd, a former Minister of Social Development and Gender Affairs.
“Vulnerable families are being denied assistance from Social Services. Assistance are being cutback and parents who used to receive $150 in assistance every two weeks for their children, have told me that too is being stopped. Things are really, really bad and people are struggling and cannot pay their bills and are being disconnected from essential services such as electricity and water,” she said.
Liburd, who also served as Speaker and deputy speaker accused the government of lacking creativity and policy in preventing the economic slowdown the economy is experiencing.
“In two and a half years the economy has moved from a seven and a half percent growth rate to about three percent – a little more than a 50 percent decline. Our people are feeling it,” said Liburd, who pointed to the recent IMF Article IV Consultation which states that manufacturing declined, the overall fiscal surplus narrowed and the current account deficit widened.
“The IMF also reported a deceleration in tourism-linked sectors and that receipts from the Citizenship by Investment Programme decreased. We do not have to look at the IMF report to tell us that people are feeling the squeeze and that people are suffering. Just listen to the people on the streets. They are saying ‘too much pressure’.” said Liburd.
“The people are infuriated. They are disgruntled and have seen their quality of life enhanced under the Labour Party, deteriorated over the past two and a half years,” she said.
Liburd promised that a new government under the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party “return hope, opportunities and prosperity to the people.”