Saint Kitts and Nevis PM Underscores CBI Significance
Addressing some 400 stakeholders at the global Citizenship by Investment (CBI) industry, in St Kitts and Nevis (Thursday, June 20, 2019) Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris said, 'the socio-economic empowerment and the improvement in the quality of life for all our citizens should remain the lifeblood and calling of each of our [CBI] programs.' He noted that, the CBI industry contributes significantly to government revenue in St Kitts and Nevis, as well as in 'other member states of our sub-region like Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada and Saint Lucia to a lesser extent,' and that 'ultimately, the measure of success of CBI programs is indicated by the extent to which countries are able to convert CBI revenue inflows into 'real, sustained and meaningful improvements in the lives of our people and in the overall development of our island nations.' 'Our policies, pricing strategies and even our discourse about Citizenship by Investment must always emphasize the inextricable link between successful applicants to our programs and the observable, actual development in and around our countries. Across our region, we see the positive impacts our Citizenship by Investment Programs make on construction, job creation, hotel stock, housing stock, social safety nets. The country's landscape has been transformed, as construction is a major driver of economic growth' Harris claimed. Meantime highlighting that, 'The build-out of the Four Seasons Residences, Ramada, Wyndham and Park Hyatt all owe their progress and success to the CBI program here in St Kitts and Nevis,' noting, 'These transformations, made possible by the careful management of our citizenship programs, are the ultimate purpose of CBI in our region. It is a lesson we can hardly remind ourselves of too much,' he said. However, Harris, wittingly or unwitting skipped the view that is more evident than not, in that, Embassy Suites international hotel brand appearing on a resort on the coastline remains unfinished; and the Radisson, the Six Senses and Ritz-Carlton brands have also eluded the Team Unity government. According to Harris, 'Innovations under its CBI Program – the Hurricane Relief Fund (which preceded the Sustainable Growth Fund) – noting, 'Since the fund was established in October 2017, its proceeds have improved the quality of life of over 2,000 households through the government's hurricane repair housing assistance program.' Harris' Team Unity administration alludes to the incredible success of St Kitts, and Nevis' CBI program has provided the fiscal space to pay a double salary in December for the last three consecutive years and to introduce the $500-monthly poverty alleviation program; however, the economic impact is marginal and not reflective on the broader cross-section of the country. That comparison is evident, taking into consideration Dominica and Antigua and Barbuda's efficiency, leadership, management, and economic development that CBI requires; hitherto Harris proclaims, 'Today our CBI program is still the oldest and best program. Our experiences over the last 35 years and particularly in the last 5-10 years have underscored the crucial importance of 'building resilience' for our citizenship programs across the Caribbean.' 'We must meet the challenges and opportunities of the next three decades of Caribbean CBI with (i) the vision and foresight of the architects of our regional industry; (ii) even greater ingenuity, imagination and innovation; and above all (iii) the leadership and resolve to execute the blueprint for this industry over the coming years,' he said. Harris continued: 'It is on the firm grounds of ethical leadership that we should pronounce clearly that as a region: (i) we will always maintain the strongest and most robust due diligence program in the world; (ii) we will cooperate with all nations and entities, in particular the USA, Canada, the EU, Interpol, JRCC; and (iii) we will never condone wrong or become a haven to illicit actors. We want persons not just of high net worth but of high integrity and excellent character to become part of our citizenry.' Nevertheless, the Caribbean Investment Summit 2019 that brought together CBI industry professionals and experts from June 19-21 with the aim of better facilitating knowledge transfer regarding industry best practices, critical trends and business insights, is an ideal opportunity for a comprehensive, sustainable and inclusive approach to a sectoral plan that impact economic development and growth in the region. However, there exists a vacuum for multilateral partners in structuring and financing of public housing programs, infrastructure development and the optimal use of CBI funds and ordinary capital towards economic sustainability.