BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, December 22, 2020 (Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister) – In wrapping up the debate on the 2021 Budget, Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris refuted the mischief and misinformation purported by Leader of the Opposition, Dr. Denzil Douglas, particularly as it relates to his failed attempt to paint the highly successful Peace Initiative in a bad light.
Sinceits inception, the Peace Initiative has provided at-risk young men with the necessary assistance to start their own entrepreneurial ventures and have steered others towards employment opportunities.
Forthe upcoming financial year, the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis budgeted for funds in the amount of $10 million for the continuation of the programme. But, in what may have been a deliberate attempt to mislead the public, Dr. Douglas inaccurately claimed that the Government had budgeted $31 million for the Peace Initiative.
“He well knows that it is untrue. A careful reading of the Budget, as outlined by the deputy prime minister, would have reflected that far from increasing the allocation, we have reduced the allocation by some 17 percent. Far from $31 million, the provision was for $10 million,” said Prime Minister Harris, who is also the Minister responsible for National Security.
Accordingto the prime minister, the Peace Initiative continues to derive significant benefits not only for the young men involved but for the wider community, which has enjoyed a greater sense of peace and security.
PrimeMinister Harris pointed to the hypocrisy of the opposition leader, noting that it was under his leadership that crime in St. Kitts and Nevis reached record highs.
Dr.Harrissaid, “Had the Member for Number Six acted responsibly and seriously as a Minister of National Security…there would be no need for a Peace Initiative. It was the failure of policy initiatives over a long period of time that saw violence in the country took root. It was the failure of the policies of the Member opposite that saw homicides in the country raised its ugly head and escalated from about two in 1993 to 36 in 2011.”
Itis due in large part to the success of this gang intervention programme that St. Kitts and Nevis has realised a 22 percent reduction in major crimes for 2020.
PrimeMinister Harris used the occasion of his Budget wrap up to commend the High Command of the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force, the National Security Advisor and the community-minded individuals who have played direct roles in the design and rollout of the Peace Initiative.
Dr. Harris also lauded the young men for their commitment to making the life changing decision.