BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, December 17, 2020 (Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister) – Leader of the Opposition, the Right Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas, was again chided for his poor representation of the people, when he delivered what has been described as an ‘empty response’ to the $867.9 million 2021 Budget presented by Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris on Tuesday, December 15.
Onthe second day of the Budget debate, the opposition leader spent most of his allotted time to respond to the Budget by launching attacks at the hugely successful Peace Initiative – which he himself earlier commended for ushering in a new era of calm in the country – and the Social Security Board that was very instrumental in providing much needed and timely assistance to hundreds of persons whose earnings were adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
DeputyPrime Minister and Minister of Public Infrastructure et al., the Honourable Shawn Richards, in his presentation, lauded the honourable prime minister for tabling a Budget for the upcoming financial year that will help stimulate the economy and return St. Kitts and Nevis on a positive growth path.
“These are unprecedented times and of course this particular Budget calls for a different response. As such Mr. Speaker, I want to commend the mover of the Bill [The Appropriation (2021) Bill, 2020], the Member for Number 7, who has responsibility for the Ministry of Finance for laying before this Honourable House a Budget, Mr. Speaker, that ensures that the people of St. Kitts and Nevis continue along a path of growth,” Deputy Prime Minister Richards said.
Notwithstanding, Deputy Prime Minister Richards stated that the Leader of the Opposition came to the National Assembly with the sole intention of misguiding the nation with irrelevant information to hide his otherwise empty response to the budget.
Headded, “In light of the fact that we have presented a Budget that looks towards the future Mr. Speaker, you would have heard much criticism coming from the Leader of the Opposition. His presentation certainly was no surprise to me Mr. Speaker because it reflects what I have been hearing from him since becoming the Leader of the Opposition – nothing but doom and gloom.”
Similarly, the Honourable Akilah Byron-Nisbett, Federal Minister of Health, ICT, Entrepreneurship and Talent Development, said she was deeply disappointed in the presentation by Dr. Douglas.
MinisterNisbett said, “I sat in here and I heard the deputy prime minister say that he was not surprised by the [Dr. Douglas’] presentation but I would say that I am disappointed with the presentation we had [Wednesday] morning because Mr. Speaker I have sat in this Parliament for many budget sessions and we have heard the same rhetoric for every single budget cycle. The rhetoric hasn’t change, but why I’m disappointed Mr. Speaker is because June 5th, 2020 I thought should have taught the Opposition a lesson – don’t oppose for opposing sake but bring some substance to the debate. And so, I am hopeful that the other members of the Opposition would be listening attentively as we make our presentations so that they can make some substantial contributions and they would bring something of essence to the table, Mr. Speaker.”
The2021 Budget was delivered under the theme “Fortitude During the Pandemic: Resilience, Recovery and Transformation.”