(PRESS RELEASE) — A local attorney-at-law has slammed St Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister Dr the Hon Timothy Harris over his handling of the coronavirus (COVID-19) telling him that people in the country simply want to know that the Cabinet is taking this pandemic as seriously as other countries worldwide and even those in the sub-region.
In an open letter on Friday, Garth Wilkin said the people are not concerned about politics right now.
“There are people whose mental health (and resultantly physical health) is deteriorating because of the natural fear that arises during the pandemic that is sui generis. Such people, and others who worry less,” said Wilkin, who added “we, the people, are hearing more from other Caribbean leaders than ours. Even more from Nevis’ leader than the Federal leader.
“We love the CMO and appreciate the hard work she has done and is doing along with NEMA and the task force. She is, however, a doctor, not a policymaker. Her concern is the people’s health not the national economy.”
“You, the government, owe us, the people, frequent updates on what is being discussed in your situation room. When we wake up and realize you, in the capacity as a political party union, are campaigning rather than decision making, we get worried that you, the government, are not taking this situation seriously enough,” Wilkin told Prime Minister Harris.
He pointed out that whilst it is appreciated that phase two is triggered only if a confirmed case is discovered, “daily we see flights arriving with potential cases from hot spots such as the United Kingdom and New York and some of these persons are not put into quarantine”.
“We all know this. Therefore, naturally, we are concerned about the importance (or lack thereof) of the first confirmed case while our children continue to go to school and everyone believes everything is normal,” said Wilkin, who further pointed out that children do not practice social distancing and people usually adjust their lives only when the government tells them to.
“All we want, all we need, is for the government to comfort us by informing us, regularly, through the leader of Cabinet, what is being discussed and decided. Why is that so hard to ask, when other Caribbean islands are doing this frequently?
“All will not agree with your decisions, but once the reasoning is expressed publicly, they will be respected,” Wilkin said.
He noted that several persons in St Kitts and Nevis are at home right now with no income and need to know if there is a plan by the Team Unity Government to assist.
“People whose mortgages are due within days yet their tenants have left the country, need to know if they will get some form of law-driven debt relief or delay. People want to know if the country has enough in the Hurricane Relief Fund to sustain us if we do have to shut down for a few weeks or months,” said Wilkin.
He is of the view that the Government’s decision to let the people get all the information “from the health professionals” is a bad decision.
“It is a cop-out. We, the people, want to hear from you, the leaders of the country, flanked by our able CMO and Team.
“We don’t want you, the government, to meet with opposition parties for political or PR reasons. We want you to meet with them because, just like you have met with the Chamber of Industry and Commerce, two heads are better than one. Our preparedness for the non-health impacts of this pandemic requires an all-inclusive approach. It requires an access-to-information-regularly approach. It requires you, the government, to forget about politics for a few weeks. That is a distraction we do not need,” said Wilkin.
He expressed the view that the first order is to “survive this pandemic first, then choose who we want to sit in parliament and cabinet after. Please, we are begging, let us hear what you are discussing and deciding to do!”
He also called on the government to give reasons why a flight arrival ban has not been issued for non-citizens/residents.
“We are not Antigua and Barbados. Their economies have different issues and they have many more tourists than we do. We are accustomed to a May to October sharp reduction in tourist-related income. Therefore our considerations are different.
“Additionally, the government has always boasted about its fiscal responsibility. That suggests that we have savings to deal with this rainy day. But all of these are assumptions because the last time you, the Government, addressed the nation was March 8, 2020, and you have yet to address the non-health-preparedness issues that arise in a pandemic. That is simply not good enough. Where are you? I do not count a political party town hall as an address to the nation by the leader of the nation,” Wilkin concluded.