By Eulana Weekes
St Kitts and Nevis (WINN): Seven years later, the Team Unity construct seems to be falling apart, gathering local and regional attention. A tripartite meeting of heads of political parties in the Team Unity Government is scheduled for Wednesday, April 6, 2022. It is expected that several matters will be discussed, including the issue of fair share of Citizenship By Investment (CBI) funds to Nevis.
During his monthly Press Conference on Thursday, March 31, Premier of Nevis and Leader of the Concerned Citizens Movement addressed the matter of CBI funds.
“Significant sums of money have flowed into the country over the past several years and it has been a perennial concern on the island of Nevis that Nevis has not got anywhere close to a fair share of those proceeds; that we on this island representing some 25 per cent of the population of the wider Federation have largely been lockout; and when we look at St Kitts and the developments that we have seen in St Kitts and the pace that it has moved, compared sometimes to the pace that we have seen here on Nevis, we see the direct benefit of Citizen By Investment, when over the years we have heard about surplus, after surplus after surplus after surplus on the island of St Kitts, it is a direct consequence of the flows of the Citizen By Investment.”
Brantley added, “We have expressed that concern to the point where, in the political season, leading up to the 2015 General Elections, this was a principal basis on which the party that I lead, the Concerned Citizens Movement, rallied behind the idea of Team Unity, because we saw that under the previous arrangement, the Labour- NRP Administration, the island of Nevis got nothing or as I like to say, when we did get something, it was labelled a loan and so this was a matter of grave concern to us and to the island of Nevis and to the people of Nevis.
Brantley indicated that he drafted the document, which specifically spoke to the issue of CBI funding.
“We got into office, but before we did, I was asked to draft a document called the Charlestown Accord and that document was signed by the principal actors; for the PLP, Dr Timothy Sylvester Harris, for the PAM, Shawn Kenneth Richards and for the CCM, the then leader, Vance Winkworth Amory. It was not a secret document. It was signed on the courthouse steps in Charlestown before a massive crowd, as I like to say, before God and man, somewhere in December I believe,(December 14 2014). Signed, Documented, the Charlestown Accord did not speak to revenue that comes to St Kitts-Nevis. The Charlestown Accord spoke to the political issue that was current at that time, and that issue was CBI proceeds. In fact, the Charlestown Accord was very specific. It mentioned CBI Revenue, CBI proceeds; not general revenue, not tax revenue.”
The agreement states that under a Team Unity Government:
- Nevis shall receive its fair and equitable share of natural resources based on the pro-rata population basis, to ensure that Nevisians too will benefit fairly from the returns of national investments.
2. Revenue from the passport processing fees under the Citizenship by Investment Programme shall be shared equitably with the Nevis Island Administration based on a pro-rata population
3. Revenue from the Sugar Investment Diversification Fund (SIDF) or its successor agency shall be shared equitably with the Nevis Island Administration on a pro-rata population basis
4. The Nevis Island Administration will get title to nominate representatives of the SIDF Board or the Board of any successor agency so as to ensure the proper representation of all Kittitians and Nevisians.
5. Projects approved by the Nevis Island Administration for the Citizenship by Investment Programme shall be sanctioned and approved by the Federal Government without delay.
6. The appointment of Ambassadors and Consuls and other Diplomats to represent the people of St Kitts and Nevis will only be undertaken after consultation with the Premier of Nevis.
7. All grant funds, including but not limited to grants from the European Union will be shared equitably to the Nevis Island Administration on a pro-rata population basis.
8. To address the historical unfairness and the bias of the Federal Government in distributing resources of the SIDF. Team Unity will provide a lump sum payment to the Nevis Island Administration as goodwill and acknowledgement that an injustice was done to the Nevis Island Administration. It represents an injustice to all the people of Nevis.
9. Financial support will be provided to the Nevis Island Administration for the financialization of the Geothermal Project in Nevis, clearing the way for the jobs for Kittitians and Nevisians, the development of a wide range of specialised skill sets and the tradable product bringing millions of dollars in foreign exchange for the distribution of geothermal energy.
10. Nevisians will be assured equitable participation and representation in the Federation’s overseas Embassies and Missions.
11. All Boards of nationally-owned institutions will include persons designated by the Nevis Island Administration so as to ensure the Boards are fully representative of all Kittitians and Nevisians.
12. Never again will political activists on the National Bank Board or any other national Board attempt to bully or embarrass the Nevis Island Administration.
13. Never again will the cheques of the Nevis Island Government be dishonoured, so long as there are available funds and liquidity in the National Treasury.
14. Full responsibility for the maintenance of the safety and security of the island of Nevis.
15. The members of the CCM, members of the PAM and members of the PLP will all be engaged in the governance process at the Federation level to ensure a governance model based on consultation rather than confrontation, harmony rather than disharmony, love and respect for all rather than vilification and strife.
16. It shall as the Next Federal Government pursue meaningful Constitution Reforms, including but not limited to reforms geared at improving the relationship between St Kitts and Nevis and ensuring greater certainty about matters of the role of the Governor-General, the tabling of Motions of No Confidence in the National Parliament, the role of the Speaker of the National Parliament and the need at all times to have a Deputy Speaker in the National Parliament.
17. Fiscal policies between the Federal Government and the Nevis Island Administration will, wherever possible be discussed and harmonised so as to ensure that the two islands progress jointly and in economic harmony.
Taking a look back at the day of the historic signing ceremony of the Charlestown Accord, the then Deputy Leader of the Concerned Citizens Movement, the Hon Mark Brantley, expressed his delight in being a part of the event, which he indicated would be beneficial to all the people of St Kitts and Nevis.
“I’m very happy to be at this table on this day here in Charlestown for what can only be described for what is truly a historic occasion, when three political parties in the Federation [with] disparate backgrounds and at times, having had disparate beliefs have now come together as one, in order to advance the interest of the country. I believe that these parties here represented, have come not for self-aggrandisement, not for lust of power, but rather, to put aside historic differences and to bring into being, a new paradigm of governance for our beloved nation of St Kitts and Nevis.”
Brantley added, “Speaking for myself, I never thought that in my lifetime, I would see a day such as this, but here we are ladies and gentlemen; a set of individuals who have decided that it is better to put country above self, it is better to put aside whatever difficulties might have kept us back and it is now important that we move together forward, forward together as one and as a unified team.”
Also speaking at the signing ceremony of the “Charlestown Accord,” Leader of the People’s Action Movement, the Hon Shawn K Richards expressed how important this coalition will be for the advancement of the people of not just St. Kitts, but also for Nevis.
“We make this pledge to Nevis today, that it is not enough for some of us to prosper, we all must prosper. It is not enough for some of us to benefit from our country’s resources, we all must benefit. It is not enough for some of us to plan, but the plan must include all of us- both islands. Before we can plan, we must confront our past.”
Richards added, “Our past has not always been characterised by smooth relationships between St. Kitts and Nevis. Has it? In fact, it has been marred with challenges, since before independence and we acknowledge that. It is time to face these challenges head-on and not run from them, not ignore them and pretend that they do not exist.”
Richards further stated, “While we drift aimlessly to the 21st Century, St. Christopher has not always treated Nevis fairly. For a very long time, Nevisians have rightly felt that they were being deprived of their “fair share” of the Federation’s resources. They were not benefitting from their fair share of investment, revenue or services. This is not acceptable, so we have come to set that right.”
“It is time to realise the dream of Sir Kennedy Simmonds and Simeon Daniel, for a better deal for Nevis. We pledge that Nevis will take its place as a full partner in this Federation. As we stand here on the eve of the General Elections, we are within sight of the most important choice for this country, since Independence. Our nation is in crisis, our economy is on its knees, our democracy is in tatters and we are being held hostage by an illegitimate minority government. Slowly, we have come to face the fact that the very people who should be making our nation better are the ones destroying it.”
Seven years later, there is much debate amongst the people of St Kitts and Nevis, discussing whether or not the plans listed in the Charlestown Accord are being upheld.