Amidst growing concern that the Timothy Harris-led Team Unity Government is paying or facilitating the payment of hundreds of thousands of tax dollars to criminals, Deputy Prime Minister, Hon Shawn Richards, could not say Thursday whether the 30 weapons Dr Harris claims were turned over to the police were used in crimes or murders.
The response by the Deputy Prime Minister, who is also the Political Leader of one of the three-party governing coalition also raised concerns of what one disillusioned prominent PAM supporter called “Prime Minister Harris’ hastily-made decisions based on his own personal political agenda without prior discussions with ministers of government and the cabinet.”
A guest of Freedom 106.5 FM “Issues” programme on Thursday, Deputy Prime Minister Richards was asked by a male telephone caller: “What if the guns were used in a crime? If the guns were used in a crime, will someone be charged for the murder?”
Responding Deputy Prime Minister Richards said: “That is a very legitimate question. I myself, I was off island at the time of the press conference. I had a conversation with a particular individual, I think it was two days ago and I raised that very same issue. I cannot say at this point that I have a specific answer to give to you relative to that, but it is indeed a legitimate question and concern.”
Deputy Prime Minister Richards added: “There is a meeting of the Cabinet tomorrow (today, Friday16, August) and it is a question that I intend to raise myself.”
The startling admission by minister Richards that he does not know, follows a call on Wednesday by Leader of the Opposition, the Rt Hon Dr Denzil L Douglas for Prime Minister Harris to provide answers to the people of St Kitts and Nevis.
Dr Douglas said Wednesday, “If we are paying criminals to stop committing crime then the government must say so and must bring into being the necessary conversation and discussions among the citizens and the stakeholder groups so that if this is a programme of paying violent gang members money to stop committing crime. If that is what the programme is then we all need to know because the money is coming from the taxpayers of St Kitts and Nevis.”
“What is the role of the Development Bank of St Kitts and Nevis in this particular programme? Is it that we are having for example monies being paid from the Office of the Prime Minister or from the Ministry of National Security into the Development Bank and then monies are being dispersed from the Development Bank, or is it that it is coming from the Treasury? We need to know and we demand answers not only as citizens of St Kitts and Nevis but as Members of the Parliament of St Kitts and Nevis.”
Earlier this week, there were reports that Prime Minister Harris and members of the police high command were seen meeting at one of the hotels in Frigate Bay at which decisions were made in the absence of cabinet ministers.