Astaphan: Douglas should be credited for debt-to-GDP ratio reduction; slams Harris for not undoing land for debt swap

November 06, 2018 in National

Dwyer Astaphan

Basseterre, St. Kitts, November 5, 2018 – Operator Rescue’s Dwyer Astaphan has blasted Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris for taking credit for bringing the Federation’s debt-to-GDP ratio in line with the international benchmark of 60 percent and for not keeping his promise to undo the land for debt swap initiative..

“You might believe that getting the debt to GDP down to 60 percent was an achievement for which the present government and they alone are to get credit. While it is true that it wasn’t they who were in government when the debt sky-rocketed and the debt to GDP ratio went to 200 percent, it is also true that the debt to GDP ratio went down from 200 percent in 2010/2011 to about 74 percent by December 2014, two months before the February 2015 elections” Astaphan said recently on an edition of The Operating Room on WINNFM.

He said the dramatic decrease in the Debt to GDP ratio came about as a result of the several initiatives including new arrangements with creditors and the Land for Debt Swap, an initiative which Dr. Harris, then a senior minister in the Denzil Douglas Labour Government vehemently opposed.

“It was a sore point that the then government member Dr. Harris stood in the parliament one evening and delivered what may have been his best and most passionate parliamentary speech in his life opposing his colleagues on the passage of that particular piece of legislation to introduce the land for debt swap,” said Astaphan, who recalls Harris words, ‘If I perish, I perish.’

“Those words will resonate on the pages of history for generations to come. He was dead set against the land for debt swap,” said Astaphan, who quickly added: “It is this very land for debt swap which was the single major factor in dramatically dropping the debt to GDP ratio and the national debt.”

Astaphan asked: “If the land for debt swap was bad in 2013, if the manifesto of Team Unity says in the clearest of language that the swap was bad, and that on taking office, would reverse it, why is it not reversed yet?”