BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, Tuesday June 16, 2015 – St. Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris says if the Caribbean’s Citizenship by Investment Programme is going to be successful and survive, it will need greater transparency and integrity.
Addressing the inaugural two-day Caribbean Region Citizenship by Investment Programme meeting which began yesterday, he said the industry is “remarkably rewarding” and posed to grow and benefit many, but “opportunity and responsibility must be partners in this enterprise”.
“We need greater transparency, good corporate governance, efficiency, integrity and exclusivity,” he said.
“We have to invest the time, energy and resources necessary to restore confidence locally and trust internationally in our programme. I am a definite supporter of this programme, and I will not apologize because I know its potential for transformative development, for empowering our people and supporting our economic resilience and prosperity agenda.”
The Citizenship by Investment Programme allows foreigners to qualify for citizenship by investing a minimum amount of money in a country – with amounts varying depending on the country offering it.
These programmes have come under scrutiny, with some critics suggesting that they not only undermine the integrity of national passports but have security risks.
Referring to his own country’s initiative, from which the government gets more than 30 per cent of its annual revenue, Harris said he knew that an effectively run Citizenship by Investment Programme, organized with the proper structures and systems, rigid and reliable due diligence practices, transparency, parliamentary and/or Cabinet oversight and in the full view of public scrutiny, can be an invaluable asset for any country.
“Malta knows it. Cyprus knows it. Canada knows it. The United States knows it. We all have similar programmes even if we call them by different names and our primary objectives are dissimilar,” the St. Kitts leader pointed out.
He encouraged fellow Caribbean countries such as Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica and Grenada, which already have national initiatives, and others considering their own, to work with St. Kitts and Nevis to build the best programmes.
“As the industry grows, it must be better managed, staffed by professionals, guided by transparent rules and regulations. We have to work together to frustrate criminal intent, activities and resources that seek to find any weak link and to exploit it,” Harris said.
“We want and will work with a coalition of the willing to promote greater transparency, good corporate governance, efficiency, accountability, integrity and exclusivity.”