Opposition Leader Douglas says Sustainable Growth Fund is a Harris Re-election Fund
By: Erasmus Williams
Basseterre, St. Kitts, November 1, 2018 – Former Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas has accused his successor, Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris of “completely eviscerated the Citizenship By Investment Programme and has made it less transparent and less accountable than it has ever been.
“Over the past year, Dr. Timothy Harris has suspended the Sugar Industry Diversification Fund (SIDF) and created a slush fund – the Hurricane Relief Fund which has now been replaced by the Sustainable Growth Fund or SGF,” said Dr. Douglas at his St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party monthly press conference.
Pointing out that there is cause for concern, Dr. Douglas said that Dr. Harris “has cheapened the CBI programme and in so doing has exposed it to further risk of attracting criminal elements.”
“Under the new SGF, St. Kitts and Nevis passports are now being sold like fruit in a marketplace at US$150,000 per person or US$50,000 per person for a family of four. This is down from US$250,000 per person under the Labour administration. If at US$250,000 we were being criticized that this would attract criminal elements, how much more at risk are we with people paying only US$50,000 for our passport?,” he asked.
He also pointed out that the operations of the CBI programme and the Citizenship by Investment Unit has grown less and less transparent.
“Previously under the Labour administration the SIDF with a Board of Directors, managed the fund and there was an accounting firm that was responsible for auditing the fund and presenting financial reports. The SIDF fund was governed by the Foundations Act with its legal responsibilities and parameters governed by law. The new SGF has no basis whatsoever in law. The SIDF Board is now defunct and abandoned,” said Dr. Douglas, the Leader of the Opposition.
He said over the last three and a half years, the SIDF fund and the CBI programme, has been run completely out of the Office of the Prime Minister with his friends and family members doing as they feel.
“The Prime Minister has in his various press releases claimed that the Hurricane Relief Fund was a ‘highly successful initiative which exceeded expectations.” The CIU’s website has stated that the HRF received an “overwhelming amount of support”, to the point where, even at its closure, there was still a huge backlog of outstanding applications.
Yet at no time, has the Prime Minister announced how much money was placed in the HRF. We know however that he received more than 200 million US dollars. At the same time when you look around the country at the number of roofs that have been fixed, the government has not spent more than EC$50 million. This means that over US$180 million is stashed away somewhere,” said Dr. Douglas.
“So my question and what the public wants to know is: where will the rest of the money go? How will it be used? These are kinds of questions that the public should have answers to but due to the complete lack of transparency in the administration of the HRF or SGF, there is no way of knowing, said Dr. Douglas, adding: “That is why the Labour Party continues to say that the HRF is a Harris Re-election Fund. It is slush fund corrupt to the highest degree.”