by Devonne Cornelius
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): Opposition Parliamentarian the Hon. Dr. Geoffrey Hanley is questioning monies that are being proposed for the Office of the Prime Minister for the fiscal year 2022.
Speaking in Parliament on Thursday, Dr. Hanley, the Member of Parliament for St. Christopher 1, said “the Office of the Prime Minister has become a behemoth…and a major budget heading.” He added that “the allocation separate from the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of National Security is well over $100 million.”
The Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), in 2021, was allocated funding in the amount of $80, 738, 722. For 2022, the OPM would be allocated approximately $110,562,437. This is an increase of $29,823,715.
Dr. Hanley also raised questions about the Alternative Lifestyle Pathway Fund otherwise known as the ‘Peace Initiative’, which according to the 2021 Estimates, was part of the Office of the Prime Minister.
“In December of 2020, we discussed that the global expenditure for the Peace Program would be $31 million but one year later, it has climbed to $44.6 million. Without the necessary staff to join the program, the Office of the Prime Minister continues to administer this public good with no effort of an end in sight.
Dr. Hanley claimed that “no strategic efforts are being made at building entrepreneurship and business development programs within the ‘pay for peace’. The monies are just held in the office and spent at leisure and pleasure with no reason.”
The “Peace Initiative” launched by the Ministry of National Security in February 2019, is described as aiming to engage at-risk and marginalized individuals in properly structured legitimate activities.
Prime Minister the Hon. Dr. Timothy Harris, during his Independence Address in 2020 said“we have seen an initiative geared towards the safety and security of our Nation take root, resulting in a drastic reduction in homicides and violent crimes across the Nation. The weeping and wailing of mothers and children whose sons and fathers were lost to gun violence have subsided thanks to our Peace Initiative and its Alternative Lifestyle Pathway. We will continue to reform it to consolidate the gains in law and order, peace, public safety, and security.”