Basseterre, St. Kitts, March 06, 2017 (SKNIS): Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, outgoing Chairman of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Authority, said that although regional integration is a work-in progress, the member states and the OECS Commission continue to work hand in hand on a number of important matters relevant to each member, and one in particular, is the Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Programmes.
He said that some of the matters are very “involved and complex”, while making reference to the Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Programmes that currently exist in five of the six independent member states within the OECS.
“We have added new issues to the plate of the Commission in that the Commission has become a bit more frontally involved on issues to do with the CBI Programme because they are critical to the economic framework which we have set ourselves,” said Prime Minister Harris, adding that member states who are interested in CBI, as well as Dr. Didacus Jules, Director-General of the OECS Commission, recently met in caucus in St. Kitts during the 64th Meeting of the OECS Authority to discuss the matter further. “We have set up a modality, a mechanism which will have greater participation and involvement of the OECS Secretariat in relation to that matter. There are significant issues arising globally and internationally.”
Prime Minister Harris said that it was important that CBI regulators are on the same page and continue to adopt to any challenges that occur. Dr. Harris said that the CBI Programmes within the region continue to grow and so it is important for member states to continue to work to ensure that they remain on top.
“That Programme in terms of its attractiveness to countries, as part of their strategy for development, as part of their strategy to get financial space has taken on greater importance,” he said. “And so, it now has to find its way, not only within the realm of the work of the Central Bank, but more importantly within the Commission that is more strategically placed and has treaty responsibility for the macroeconomic picture of our country, whereas a Central Bank more deals with the financial arm, and so we have been able now to rest this as it were.”
The prime minister made specific mention of CBI Programme in St. Kitts and Nevis, stating that it had suffered in 2014 starting with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCen) Advisory. He added that against this backdrop, it was extremely important to readjust, reposition and recalibrate the local programme, thus allowing it to regain global attention.
“We have managed to put that at the regional level as an area for collaboration. And now I would say today that we have been able to find some appropriate institutional mechanism to continue to carry this regional initiative going forward through the aegis of our Commission with some work at the financial level, the financial integrity to come from the Central Bank,” said Prime Minister Harris.
Other matters the member states and the Commission continue to work on include but are not limited to the further deepening of the integration process, matters pertaining to free circulation of goods and services among the union, as well as issues to deal with transport across the region. Prime Minister Harris said that “while some of the issues have not been brought to definitive conclusion” they are matters over which the member states have to continue to labour to get to that stage.
During his tenure as Chairman of the OECS Authority, Prime Minister Harris said that the organization was able to reactivate the OECS Assembly as a mechanism for integration and discussion of regional issues.