Opposition Leader Douglas advice to IMF Mission: Look diligently into all documents provided by PM Harris
Photo shows IMF Mission Team members with Leader of the Opposition, the Right Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas ( center right) and other SKNLP parliamentarians at their meeting last month.
By: E. Williams
BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, May 18th 2017 – The recent International Monetary Fund (IMF) Article IV Consultation Mission to St. Kitts and Nevis was told to be careful and to look diligently into all of the documentation provided to them by the Federal Government of Prime Minister, Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris during the just concluded three-week visit.
“(I told them) they have the right to request more information in areas where they think that Dr. Harris was being deceptive and I added that that is the nature of Dr. Harris,” said Dr. Douglas in an invited comment during his “Ask the Leader” call in programme.
Dr. Douglas, political leader of the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party referenced his response to Dr. Harris’ 2017 Budget in December last year and recalled the theme “Accelerating Growth and Building Resilience.”
“In fact we all knew that growth was decelerating. The rate of growth was coming down, from about 7 percent 2013, to 6 percent in 2014, and finally to 3 percent in 2016. The Central Bank last year and earlier this year had to review its own estimates with regard to the state of the economy in St. Kitts and Nevis,” said Dr. Douglas, the former prime minister and minister of finance.
“I felt very strongly that it was important to ask the IMF Mission to look deep into the matter because we could not rely on the posturing of Dr. Harris with regard to the performance of the economy. We would wish that as a credible opposition and thinking seriously of how we can plan the economic recovery when the Labour administration takes office, we want to make sure that we have reliable statistics,” said Dr. Douglas expressing his confidence as he did prior to the arrival of the IMF Mission, that they will be professional in their assessment of the economy of St. Kitts and Nevis.
Dr. Douglas was asked to comment on the notion promoted by the leaders of the PAM and the CCM that Dr. Harris possessed the ability to be a good financial czar and comparing the advice of the IMF Mission that there was need for Dr. Harris ‘to pay urgent attention to strengthen financial management,’ Dr. Douglas responded: “It has to be an indictment. What the IMF was saying is ‘we have seen signs’ – and remember this is an assessment that is couched in deep diplomatic language. They are stating that they have found evidence where you have mismanaged. We have found evidence of mismanagement and to some extent alluded to the fact that there are structures that should be in place to assist you in management along appropriate lines.”
Once such structure Dr. Douglas mentioned is the Public Accounts Committee, which after 27 months of the life of a new Parliament, a PAC is still not in place.
Prime Minister Harris in his capacity as Minister of Finance has repeatedly refused to establish the constitutionally mandated body.