Basseterre, St. Kitts, November 19, 2015 (SKNIS)—The leader of the country with one of the longest history of the Citizen-by-Investment (CBI) Programme in the Caribbean and the world is warning countries in the region that they must employ best practices with respect with the programme or risk losing it all.
Speaking at the 62nd OECS Authority Meeting in the Commonwealth of Dominica at the Fort Young Hotel on November 18, Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, admonished OECS Heads that the time was urgent for the Caribbean to avoid a “rush to the bottom” in the CBI programme by coming together and agreeing on best practices.
Using the Greek mythology of Sisyphus, who was founder and king of Corinth or Ephyra as it was called in those days, and a sinner condemned to eternity of rolling a boulder uphill then watching it roll back down again, Dr. Harris underscored the importance of saving the reputation of the CBI programme in the region.
“I want to say as we are pursuing and attempting to deal with the challenges of economic development, many of us, starting first in 1984 with St. Kitts and Nevis engaged in the economic citizenship programme—then I think others would have come like Dominica, Grenada (and Antigua), not necessarily in that order and now St. Lucia and we hear that Jamaica has been contemplating its own entry into this critical area”—that there is need for a plan of action, Dr. Harris said.
“As the country that has lead this, long before anyone else contemplated this, I still make the case that even in this critical area, new area for growth, new area for job creation, that we need to have a regional plan and a regional effort or else we will have a march to the bottom. We will have another country come on stream and the solution is to reduce the price, reduce the price for your real estate option, reduce the price as it were for the contribution option and what does that leave for us—the bartering of the patrimony, the bartering of something that should be held so sacred and special because for many of our citizens, the Dominican passport, the Dominican citizenship, the Grenadian citizenship, is all they’ve had and in St. Kitts and Nevis, we say to them that we want a discerning investor in St. Kitts and Nevis,” Prime Minister Harris said.
“We are concerned about reputational damages to our citizens. It only takes one bad apple to spoil all of it and yet we want in the hearts and in the minds of our citizens a sense of belonging and pride always whenever St. Kitts and Nevis is being mentioned,” he added.
Prime Minister Harris reiterated that due diligence must never be compromised in our CBI programmes. He commended the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, the Honourable Gaston Browne for undertaking to hold the second meeting this year with regard to best practices and due diligence with respect to the CBI programme.
St. Kitts and Nevis as a leader of the region has been in the forefront to up the bar for economic citizenship programmes. In July of this year, St. Kitts and Nevis was the host of an inaugural meeting of all countries in the OECS participating in the CBI programme. As a show of transparency and a willingness to be a responsible member of the international community, diplomats from United States of America (USA), Canada, the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK) participated in the very successful conference.