It is with immense pleasure that I make this visit to Dubai, my first as Prime Minister, to meet so many of you that hold our dear twin island Federation close to your heart.
Since Dubai is such an important financial hub and is swiftly becoming an epicentre for the global citizen, it is fitting that I am here this evening to discuss the attributes of my special nation, and more particularly our renowned Citizenship by Investment Programme that stands apart from others.
In this ever-changing and unpredictable world, it is imperative that the Government of St Kitts and Nevis and its Citizenship by Investment Programme continue to adapt to the needs of our people and to attract the right kind of international investment necessary to uplift our country.
For nearly 40 years, St Kitts and Nevis has been the pioneer of the global investor immigration industry. The programme has allowed our nation to thrive. It has given us the opportunity to advance our people without overreliance on international financial aid.
The vision to use economic citizenship to attract international investment was innovative in 1984. The Citizenship by Investment Programme’s first major evolution 27 years later in 2011 was bold and creative. Now, in the third iteration of its evolution, in 2022, after four decades of erudition and development, we must use that same creativity and boldness to ensure that: ⦁ that the programme transcends to the modern age; and ⦁ the security infrastructure is enhanced and strengthened.
We need to ensure that our treasured Citizenship by Investment Programme is mutually beneficial for all stakeholders, from the people of St Kitts and Nevis, the investors themselves, to the developers, to the local service providers and the international marketing agents.
While we have always been the benchmark of the global investor immigration industry, we understand that in order to remain as one of the most sought-after economic citizenship programmes in the world, we need to continue to evolve and forge a path for ourselves that is sustainable in the long term.
Since taking office in August this year, we have interrogated our Citizenship by Investment programme as it currently stands and have decided to update certain aspects of it to ensure that it continues to meet the needs of an intelligent investment-minded person looking for an enriching base for their families and businesses.
Not only that, but the programme must continue to uplift the Kittitian and Nevisian society through beneficial investment options that bring tangible value.
This interrogation was done in consultation and in partnership with all stakeholders during the exploratory phase. We will continue to engage local and international stakeholders on an ongoing basis to ensure that we are abreast of their salient needs.
I am here tonight to hear from you, the stakeholders, before the final details are revealed within the next few days for the evolved CBI Programme to be implemented on January 1, 2023.
We have made the bold and innovative decisions needed to strengthen the legislative and administrative structures of the programme and to ensure that real estate projects funded by the programme are completed. To this end, let it be known worldwide, that St Kitts & Nevis is seeking well-respected and serious investors who see the potential of our nation and who are prepared to put capital behind innovative projects, investments and industries that will enhance our palatability to global immigration investors.
I am aware that whenever evolutionary changes are imminent, it can cause some apprehension among stakeholders, but I am here this evening to assure you that there are three fundamental principles that have guided our decision-making with respect to the evolved version of our Citizenship by Investment Programme:
⦁ Sustainability. We have crafted a sustainable model programme that will continue to be the envy of the international community by injecting high levels of integrity for decades to come through administrative improvements.
⦁ Good Governance. We have structured of our programme to allow for greater transparency and accountability, hallmarks of the good governance framework that solidifies the foundation of any successful endeavour.
⦁ Pragmatism. We have tailored our investment options to align with market realities while preserving the platinum brand our proud nation has developed and nurtured for four decades, operating the oldest Citizenship by Investment Programme in the world.
The sustainable model Citizenship by Investment programme will involve the implementation of an improved multi-faceted approved real estate application process, the removal of loopholes and the strict enforcement of escrow and project milestone requirements.
Effective January 1, 2023, a Professional CBI Board of Governors will be responsible for high-level supervisory matters such as:
⦁ providing general oversight of the operations of the CBI Unit;
⦁ developing and implementing policies and procedures for the Unit;
⦁ ensuring that application processing is completed as efficiently as possible within the time frames advertised without comprising the integrity of the programme; and
⦁ constantly monitoring the global investor immigration industry to ensure that our CBI regulations align with, and adjust to, international market forces.
Further, in our good governance agenda, a CBI Technical Committee will be charged with:
⦁ ensuring that all due diligence background checks are comprehensive;
⦁ reviewing all CBI applications thoroughly; and
⦁ making recommendations to the Prime Minister in his capacity as Minister of National Security, Immigration and Citizenship.
We understand that in this highly competitive global investor immigration industry, time is of the essence. I, therefore, guarantee that the structures, human resources and other technical support will be provided to the CBI Board of Governors, the Technical Committee and the Head of the Unit to ensure the efficient processing of citizenship applications by our CBI Unit.
As a pragmatic administration, we know and appreciate that our CBI Programme’s investment options must align with market conditions. We however need to balance that pragmatism with the fact that St Kitts & Nevis citizenship is the platinum standard in the global investor immigration industry.
The goodwill in our programme is not some whim or fancy, it is real. The number of our citizens and international marketing agents present this evening for this event is a testament to that fact. We have a four-decade old professional programme that has maintained a high standard and benefitted all of our stakeholders tremendously.
The evolved St Kitts and Nevis CBI Programme will invite bold and creative investors to our shores and will facilitate the development of innovative industries in St Kitts & Nevis, the construction of real estate developments pursuant to this Administration’s priority infrastructure list, and in all things, bring substantial benefit to the People of Saint Christopher and Nevis.
Our new government is on a journey that aims to bring clarity to our people and international investors through constant transparency and integrity. Through well-devised synergies and enforcement of our laws, this programme will be of mutual benefit for the people of St Kitts and Nevis and those who see the potential of this nation.
Our ongoing work to strengthen this programme and the system must result in prosperity. Benefits to the international investor remain. Our proximity to international business hubs allows access to a basket of regional blocs that can help them expand their mobility and do business no matter where they are in the world.
This expansion also helps them hedge against declining demographics. We have created a name for ourselves as a financial nexus with an attractive citizenship programme underpinned by a sound legal framework and robust multi-layered due diligence.
Our programme is not just designed to benefit international investors, it also boosts local industries due to hard capital flowing in and has enabled our citizens to thrive amid global uncertainty.
As we move toward a brand new diversified economy, we remain committed to investing in tangible projects to uplift the country to achieve our goal of establishing a sustainable island state.
Our nation is now in the transition phase where we are moving away from fossil fuels to exploring all the different mixes of renewable energy. The future certainly looks positive for a sustainable energy mix of solar, wind, geothermal and others and we are doing the work to make it happen.
Other major projects in the pipeline include a housing programme, the construction of a new hospital, as well as a new High School in our capital city.
These infrastructure projects will stimulate the construction industry, and provide employment opportunities while uplifting the surrounding communities. Job creation remains at the heart of the Government’s development plan. With more well-paying jobs being created, the economy with be stimulated.
We are working tirelessly to create conditions necessary for sustainable economic growth and diverse business opportunities.
Furthermore, we continue to roll out our Covid-19 recovery plan initiatives to bring relief to the people of the Federation who felt the squeeze of the pandemic. These initiatives are already bearing fruit locally.
While we navigate the complexities of managing a small island developing state in this unpredictable and highly globalized world, we have made it a priority to craft a solution to ensure that the Third Phase Evolution of our Citizenship Programme will be a sustainable model filled with integrity, transparency and accountability and our investment options will align strategically with market realities while preserving the platinum brand associated with the oldest Citizenship by Investment Programme in the world.
This is an exciting time because these policies will continue our progressive course in the global investor immigration industry and cement St Kitts and Nevis’ place as a leader in the Citizenship by Investment space.
I invite each and every one of you to join us on this journey.
Thank you for coming. Thank you for being an advocate for St Kitts and Nevis. Thank you for being an important partner of our People. And I look forward to meeting each of you one on one.