Independent Nevis can succeed
The premier of Nevis, Vance Amory, has brushed aside concerns from his regional neighbours and the United States over his campaign for independence.
The Eastern Caribbean states, grouped under the OECS, this week restated their opposition to the break-up of the federal state of St. Kitts and Nevis.
Mr Amory told BBC Caribbean Service he was pursuing secession by constitutional means and will not be distracted from seeking a referendum on independence this year.
"The OECS and the United States are within their rights to express their concerns but through the years, the people of Nevis have been neglected in respect of what happens in the Federation and we have had to paddle our own canoe," he said.
Critics like the leader of the opposition Nevis Reformation Party, Joseph Parry feel that Mr Amory's drive to independence is based on the Premier's own ambitions, but Mr Amory was quick to point out that the Nevis government has looked carefully at the economic implications of secession.
"It is more than desire, we have looked at the economic situation, we have looked at what has prevailed in the last 20 years of independence," Mr Amory said.
"The administration of Nevis has had to provide for the existence of Nevis outside of assistance from St Kitts so if we have to take that as an example, it means the island of Nevis and the administration of Nevis already exists as an autonomous state."
Mr Amory said the Caribbean Development Bank was positive about the country's economic situation in 1996 prior to the last referendum in 1998.
He pointed to the way that his government has managed the Nevis economy and stressed that things are better in Nevis than they were ten years ago.
"In the last ten years, the Nevis administration has produced its own budget, and we have done a good job of running the affairs of this country," he said.
"We have had to borrow to develop the infrastructure but we have managed to service the debts which we incurred and those are the fundamental issues for government."
The Nevis premier maintained that he was not intimidated by the comments from the OECS and the United States, saying that what Nevis was doing was within the constitution and a part of the democratic process.
"Here is a matter which is provided for by the constitution, a matter which clearly requires the use of the democratic process which people will have to decide upon," he said.
"There are other areas in the region where the democratic process is not being followed; they could deal with those areas."
Mr Amory is encouraged by the enthusiasm of those attending public meetings on the secession issue and although no date for the referendum has been announced, he said as soon as the bill is read in parliament and debated, the date will be set.