Commentary by Neville Bartlette
There has been much delight amongst the opposition and it’s operatives about recent reports centered on persons who have benefited from the services of our Citizenship By Investment program being involved in activities that have raised eyebrows in some circles. It is unfortunate, that mind reading is not a gift given to man, for if it was, those individuals would not have not have been allowed into the St. Kitts and Nevis program. What is most unfortunate however is the pleasure displayed by the opposition and its voices, many of whom are service providers, who benefit financially from the program while spewing negative and often time false views about the same program that puts money in their pockets?
Despite their constant criticisms however, the great news is that clients, service providers and industry partners, have continued to display full confidence in the integrity of the St. Kitts and Nevis Citizenship by Investment program. Truth be told, the St. Kitts and Nevis Citizenship by Investment program is one of the world’s oldest and most attractive programs and countries such as Malta, Cyprus, Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, and Canada the United States, Belgium and the United Kingdom all benefit from Citizenship by Investment or similar residency programs. In the region, Grenada and other states, are considering programs with options like ours in St. Kitts and Nevis.
Just as these programs are beneficial to bringing new investment opportunities into the aforementioned countries, it is also critical to our economy and has helped to drive our growth over the last few years. Currently the many CBI constructions projects ongoing in St. Kitts and Nevis are providing direct long-term employment for hundreds of workers onsite; the spin off from these projects crosses over and benefits sub-contractors such as electricians, plumbers, air conditioning technicians and the like. The small entrepreneur also benefits from the program, the food vendors who visits the work sites daily, the barber shops, the bars on the waterfront, the many clothing stores on Fort and Central Streets and many others, they all benefits from the CBI ‘s money, because it circulates amongst our businesses.
You see, if you listen to the opposition, the CBI is a big money opportunity, benefiting only a few. That’s the untruth they want to spread.
However, the fact is the CBI is an investment opportunity that benefits all of us. Our parents, our brothers, our sisters, your children, our neighbors, the whole Nation.
One of the elements of the St. Kitts and Nevis Citizenship by Investment program is the SIDF. The SIDF is a brilliant initiative, and our Government must be commended for its vision. The SIDF is truly a vehicle that extols the Nation’s Motto of “Country Above Self”. You see, if you listen to opposition, the SIDF as they like to say, is a “slush fund” benefitting only a few. That’s the untruth they want to feed and want you to swallow.
However, the fact is, the SIDF, with its effective management and stewardship of the funds from that CBI option, have ensured that the moneys are used for all the good that can be done. The SIDF have contributed to the continued growth of Tourism, Infrastructure Development, Small Business Development, Human Capacity Development and much more.
You see, they will never tell you, how you have truly benefitted directly from the SIDF; they will never tell you that the SIDF with the Fund for the Realization of Economic Empowerment through Subsidized Housing (FREESH) have changed the lives of Kittitians and Nevisians. FREESH not only fosters home ownership thus creating a sense of self-empowerment it has also created employment and generates income for our people.
They will not tell you that with the SIDF’s Small Entrepreneur and Enterprise Development (SEED) project in St. Kitts and Nevis, citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis have the chance to become entrepreneurs by accessing training and interest-free loan funds ranging from EC$5,000 to EC$100,000 to start their own businesses and the support to make it successful. To date, 74 candidates have graduated from the program, 15 businesses have already begun operations and 24 are in the start-up phase. Under SEED, the new businesses have included the following: Beauty Spa, Academic Learning Center, Construction Equipment Rental, Hydroponics Farm, Poultry Farm (producing eggs), Pig Farm, Residential and Domestic Cleaning (using eco-friendly products), Mobile Advertising, Clothing Design and Manufacture Soap production; and all hire people.
They will not tell you that the SIDF have funded the People Employment Program (PEP) a Government initiative designed to create empowerment opportunities for unemployed nationals. The program implemented under the National Skills Training Programme, PEP provides training that would build necessary skills for the new service economy, internship opportunities and stipends. The PEP comprises six projects that target unemployed nationals with varying interests as follows: 1. EQuIP (Engaging Qualified Interns Project) is a job placement initiative which seeks to develop the skill sets of unemployed, academically qualified individuals through a period of internship with established private and public sectors ventures. 2. NIIP (National Infrastructure Improvement Project) provides employment opportunities for participants involved in the enhancement of the national infrastructure thereby stimulating economic development. 3. STED (Skills Training and Entrepreneurial Development) provides classroom and practical training by experienced personnel in order to enhance the entrepreneurial and/or technical skills of participants in several areas. 4. WISE (Women in Small Enterprise) empowers women in small enterprises through the provision of micro-finance grant support of up to EC$2500 and management training. 5. ATM (Agri-Enterprise Training and Management) promotes local agricultural production, thereby increasing participants’ income-earning capacity and reducing the nation’s dependence on imported products. 6. WICT (Women in Construction Trades) increases employment opportunities for women by developing the skills required to engage in meaningful income-earning activities traditionally inaccessible to them due to their primary roles as caregivers.
I’m sure by now, it’s clear that our CBI program benefits us all.
You see when it comes to our Citizenship by Investment program, the opposition is like the wolf in the story of the three little pigs, huffing and puffing, trying to blow the house down. Sorry for them, there are no pigs here, and our Citizenship By Investment program is solid, it’s built on INTEGRITY!