DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES, APRIL 28TH 2014 (CUOPM) – The St. Kitts and Nevis’ Citizenship by Investment Programme was designed both to advance the social and economic interests of the people of the twin-island federation and to provide a citizenship option for desirable non-nationals.
“It is our passionate commitment to this dual purpose that ensures that – whatever combinations and permutations may emerge elsewhere – the St. Kitts and Nevis Citizenship by Investment Programme will maintain its outstanding global reputation,” the Federation’s Minister of Minister of International Trade and Industry; Tourism, International Transport, Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Sen. the Hon. Richard “Ricky” Skerritt told scores of participants attending a Citizenship by Investment & International Residence forum in the Middle East nation.
He pointed out that the Citizenship by Investment Programme in St. Kitts and Nevis is some thirty years old although what is in place today has advanced considerably since it was introduced in 1984.
“In 2005 our economy was faced with the vagaries of a rapidly changing global trading environment, and our Government had become increasingly mindful that our 300-year reliance on sugar exports had no chance of underwriting the development vision that we had for our people. We therefore decided that the time had come to re-assess and refine the Citizenship by Investment Programme that had been first implemented some 21 years earlier,” said Sen. Skerritt who was of the view that the programme, having reached the age of majority would need to play a greater role in development financing.
He added that is when the idea of the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation (SIDF) was born and other major improvements introduced.
“Our objectives for change were clear. We wanted an investment Programme that would first and foremost, advance the social and economic well-being of the people of St. Kitts and Nevis; be managed in the most efficient and transparent manner; and be structured so as to attract only investors of sound character and reputation who are interested in attaining dual citizenship but are also capable of easily meeting the minimum investment requirement,” said Minister Skerritt.
He is of the view that some eight years after the restructuring of the Programme, and thirty years after its initial introduction, St. Kitts and Nevis has the longest lasting programme of its kind in the world.
“Fortunately, not only is ours the longest lasting, but it is also one of the most reputable. As a result, demand for the St. Kitts and Nevis Programme has grown and is now consistently high,” said Mr. Skerritt.
He stated that the St. Kitts and Nevis Citizenship by Investment Programme compares favorably with all similar programmes around the world.
“However, unlike some others, there is no requirement for a tax return or any other tax consequence of becoming a citizen of St. Kitts and Nevis. Indeed St. Kitts and Nevis has never imposed income tax on worldwide income. You should also know that personal income tax was abolished in St. Kitts and Nevis some 34 years ago, 4 years before the citizenship by investment program commenced. This means that the income tax exemption enjoyed by citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis is not based on any recent legislation that is likely to be subject to legal challenge,” said Mr. Skerritt.
“In addition, after citizenship is granted, there are no residential requirements to maintain citizenship, and there is no onerous provisions placed on citizens seeking to have their expired passports renewed. We operate on the fundamental principle enunciated in our Constitution that all citizens enjoy equal rights and any undue discrimination is illegal.
He further pointed out that being the oldest programme in the world means that the procedures and processes involved are all tried and tested, and are bolstered by a rich array of administrative precedents.
“Hence there is no uncertainty in relation to its system, and the risk of certificates or other instruments of citizenship being invalidated because of some unprecedented legal interpretation, is virtually non-existent in our Federation,” said Mr. Skerritt.
He pointed out to that while there is no residency requirement in the St. Kitts and Nevis programme, the natural beauty of the tropical islands, as well as the genuine friendliness of the people will lure the investor to become a loyal visitor.
“St. Kitts and Nevis is endowed with both coastal and hillside aesthetics that are, in all humility, quite breathtaking. For that, however, I must admit that we can take no credit. Quite obviously when God was making the world he gave plenty of love and attention to the Caribbean, with more than a fair share of natural assets delivered to St. Kitts and Nevis,” said Sen. Skerritt.