Hurricane Relief Fund not undercutting any sub-regional CBI programmes says PM Harris

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, October 4, 2017 (PLP PR Media Inc.) — Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr the Hon Timothy Harris, commenting on the Hurricane Relief Fund (HRF) has said that it is a third option offered by the country’s Citizenship by Investment Unit, and it is not undercutting any CBI programme in the sub-region.

Addressing his monthly press conference in the Parliamentary Lounge at Government Headquarters in Basseterre on Tuesday October 3, Dr Harris pointed out that the Hurricane Relief Fund is a new unique product not offered by any other country. It will compete in the marketplace along with the two original products of the CBI, the real estate option, and the SIDF option.

He advised that the cost of the first two options has not changed and that they remain at US$400,000 for the Real Estate option, and at US$250,000 for the Sugar Industry Diversification Fund (SIDF) option.

“Relying on our ingenuity and industry, the Cabinet accepted a proposal from Les Khan, the CEO of our Citizenship by Investment Unit to introduce a Hurricane Relief Fund as a third new offering under our Citizenship by Investment Programme at a price pegged at US$150,000,” said Prime Minister Harris.

“This price point is 50 per cent higher than the US$100,000 set by Dominica and St. Lucia for their donation options.” He added: “This offer is for a limited short timeframe of six months.”

The three products will compete in the marketplace, carrying the St. Kitts and Nevis Brand, and advised that rumours about reduction and price undercutting is purely Opposition-manufactured mischief.

According to Dr Harris, the recommendation by Mr Khan came after the passage of Hurricane Irma that had inflicted damage to the country. It was however delayed until after the battering by Hurricane Maria on September 19 and 20, in which the damages sustained were more severe. In total St. Kitts and Nevis suffered damages evaluated by the competent authorities as nearing EC$150 million in the public sector alone.

“The hysteria by the Leader of the Opposition about undermining Dominica’s recovery is not rooted in truth, nor altruism,” revealed Dr Harris. “Dominica has its own product offering which it has always priced below ours. Its donation option, for example, has been for some period of time pegged at US$100,000. Our Hurricane Relief Fund is 50 per cent higher at US$150,000.”

According to the Honourable Prime Minister, his Cabinet’s responsibly is to first and foremost look after the interests of the people of the Federation and he reaffirmed that the Cabinet will always fulfil that most sacred responsibility.

“The Hurricane Relief Fund is now fully operational with the proper constitutional and legal framework, and we will never have it otherwise,” advised Dr Harris. “Always we will act within the ambit of the law and restrict our actions within the confines of what is permissible and available in the four walls of the Constitution. Our Hurricane Relief Fund is ready for legitimate business.”

St. Kitts and Nevis pioneered the Citizenship by Investment Programme in 1984, and every other country that joined the market took the sovereign decision to enter at price points lower than St. Kitts and Nevis and that is their sovereign right to do, pointed out Prime Minister Harris.

“We never condemned anyone for doing what they considered necessary for their country, or for seeking to consolidate their position in the market,” noted Dr Harris. “There is no OPEC-type arrangement for example among countries providing citizenship as an incentive to attract foreign investment, jobs, etc. that binds us to a common price or even to consultation over pricing.”

He reaffirmed that St. Kitts and Nevis beckons a future of greater harmonising and commonality across the CBI programmes. The Federation held the first OECS Conference towards that goal as far back as 2015 as one of the first outreach activities by its government to reposition, restructure, and reorganise a CBI programme that it had inherited a loss of trust by the international community.

“We have always been in the forefront, and it is no accident that even as I speak now the person who chairs the sub-regional grouping of Heads of Citizenship by Investment Programme is our own CEO Les Khan,” advised the Prime Minister. “We have always been in the lead. We have always promoted a clear path in relation to harmonisation and developing jointly some structures with relation to the CBI Programmes.”

Mr Khan who was present at the press conference advised: “It should be recognised that even as we stand, when an individual decides to make a decision on real estate, he has already taken the consideration that Dominica is US$100,000 and if he wanted citizenship there he could have gone there. If he wanted St. Lucia at US$100,000 he could have gone to St. Lucia.”

He noted that the St. Kitts and Nevis real estate market is a robust and solid market, and has for the last year been branded as a Platinum Brand, the result of which the country has seen an increase in real estate investment. Since the announcement of Hurricane Relief Fund programme, Mr Khan said he had been meeting a number of agents and clients on the island who are looking at the real estate option, and they have not changed their mind from their decision which has been to buy real estate.

Mr Khan concluded: “I think it is a fallacy if somebody says that the real estate option is going to suffer as a result of this. It is not true because the educated client has already made that decision and we continue to see an increase in our real estate applications.”

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