Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris is promising to reform this country’s Citizenship by Investment Programme to meet the test of international accountability, and to ensure trust in its integrity, reports Winn FM.
“In St Kitts and Nevis the CBI programme represents roughly 30 plus percent of our annual revenue,” Dr Harris said this week, speaking at a two-day forum organized by IPSA International.
“Essentially, it is a pillar in the foundation of this country’s unique future and prosperity. However, these programmes may rise and fall on a simple ideal called trust, and as we all well know, trust can be a scarce commodity. We may build and consolidate it with years of hard work, only to lose it in an instance, when trust is squandered. Ladies and gentlemen, regaining it may be difficult and lengthy, but the trust that attends this business has many components. As government it is incumbent on us to put in place, the best regulatory frameworks to protect the system against abuse.”
The forum, hosted at the Ocean Terrace Inn, attracted Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister Gaston Browne and Mr. Emmanuel Nanthan, Dominica’s Ambassador at large and other government and industry officials.
“We need robust, legal, administrative and oversight firewalls to make sure that only the best candidates ever become citizens of St Kitts and Nevis,” Dr Harris said.
“It requires service providers, advisers, property developers and agents to abide by strict codes of conduct and practice based on common agreed, and verifiable standards. Governments must work together and we must share best practices, we should never shy away from competition. Genuine competition is great for the market place and there is enough legitimate business for everyone.”
Meantime, speaking at a press conference Monday, Prime Minister Gaston Browne said Antigua and Barbuda was committed to building capacities for CBI programmes in the region and underlined the importance of the initiative to his country.
“By the end of this year in Antigua and Barbuda, the CIP programme will contribute in the region of 25 per cent of total revenues, revenues that will go towards funding the sectors of country’s economies, revenues that will be utilized for health care, for education, for infrastructure development, to market tourism. Now, when I spoke about CIP…being an export, the issue is, what are we exporting? Are we exporting passports? Of course not, we are exporting a service, a way of life.”
IPSA International completed a programme review of the St Kitts and Nevis Citizenship by Investment Program in the fourth quarter of 2014.
Prime Minister Harris outlined that, with higher volumes, changing regulations and increased focus on Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorist Funding, the review was commissioned to make recommendations for enhancements to protect the integrity and security of the program.
IPSA made 20 recommendations for improved governance, risk mitigation and compliance, all of which were accepted. These included the roll-out of a case management tool to streamline the application management process within the Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU); changes to the CIU’s organizational structure to enhance processing capabilities and mitigate risk; an improved risk assessment process; and a review of previously approved applicants.
Prime Minister Harris stated that IPSA has now been engaged to assist the CIU and the Government in carrying out these recommendations, including the immediate implementation of the case management tool.