PM chooses new cabinet that crosses party lines

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts & Nevis: A new Cabinet that crosses party lines has been officially put in place in St. Kitts and Nevis, two weeks after the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) won general elections.

The Nevis Reformation Party’s (NRP) only successful candidate in the January 25 poll, Patrice Nisbett, has been sworn in as Attorney General and Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs. Dr. Dennis Merchant, who held that position in the last SKNLP administration, has been appointed General Counsel for the federal government after declining to serve in his previous post because of dual citizenship issues.

Glenn Phillip, a first-time candidate who defeated the People’s Action Movement (PAM) leader Lindsay Grant, is the new Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sports, Information Technology and Telecommunications.

Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas said the two SKNLP candidates who lost their seats will serve as special advisors: Cedric Liburd in the Ministry of Tourism and International Transport and Dr. Norgen Wilson in the Ministry of National Security and Immigration.

Douglas said the goal of his team will be to bring down the debt dramatically “so that we may divert a greater and greater proportion of our very limited resources from debt servicing to people-oriented development initiatives”.

“We will ensure there are even more frequent reports submitted to the Cabinet of Ministers on fiscal performance and debt management and that every project or initiative that comes to the Cabinet for approval is accompanied by a careful analysis of its cost and benefits, and its impact on the national debt in the short and in the long term,” Douglas said at the swearing-in ceremony at Warner Park Cricket Grounds.

He added that the government would also be more vigilant in collecting outstanding revenues, controlling expenditure and securing fiscal surpluses on an ongoing basis.

“We will also examine and we shall reform the entire tax system with a view to ensuring that coverage of our tax system is much more comprehensive and the tax burden is shared in a much more equitable manner while, at the same time, our low-income groups are afforded much greater protection,” he said.

The SKNLP holds six seats in the National Assembly. The PAM won two but is challenging the election results. The NRP took one, and the other party in Nevis – the Concerned Citizens Movement – has the other two.

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