Watering down of the St. Kitts and Nevis’ CIB has economic, social and international consequences, says Dr. Drew
BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, SEPTEMBER 28TH 2017 –An opposition politician from the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) called Wednesday for the revocation of a decision by Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris to reduce the Federation’s Citizenship by Investment Programme by 50 percent,
Dr. Terrance Drew, the SKNLP caretaker for St. Christopher 8, said if the Hurricane Relief Fund option is implemented it has the potential to attract up to 4,000 new holders of St. Kitts and Nevis passports, result in a reduction of proper and adequate due diligence procedures with the potential of putting St. Kitts and Nevis passports into the hands of terrorists, illicit actors and other unsavoury citizens and curtail the construction and sale of condominiums under the Real Estate option thus creating massive unemployment and further downturn in the economy.
“This new Hurricane Recovery Fund option aimed at raising EC$150 million as a result of damage caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria, waters down our Citizenship by Investment Programme, once a world leader and one which prime minister Timothy Harris just recently boasted was of platinum value,” said Dr. Drew, a Cuban-trained general practitioner and a United States trained internist.
Dr. Drew recalled “the negative propaganda that Dr. Harris and his Team Unity coalition orchestrated on the programme while in opposition and after being in office for over two and a half years have pushed the programme “in the intensive care unit (ICU).”
“This option also lacks the necessary legislative backing, lacks the appropriate Board oversight as was the case with the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation (SIDF) and creates a slush fund,” said Dr. Drew during Wednesday’s edition of Issues on Freedom 106.5 FM.
Dr. Drew said he is in agreement with critics who cite Harris’ plot is to undermine hurricane-ravaged Antigua and Barbuda and Dominica, both of which also have similar Citizenship by Investment programmes.
“It’s like having a brother who unfortunately is down at the moment and although you pretend to give a helping hand, has a knife stuck in the back of that same brother,” said Dr. Drew. “It is like taking advantage of the unfortunate circumstances of Dominica and Antigua and Barbuda.”
He pointed out that if the government wants to raise the EC$150 million it will have to “sell between 1,000 and 4,000 passports to persons thus increasing the present resident population by around 10 percent.”
“With all those applications to approve within a six month period, the likelihood of inadequate due diligence procedures increases the risk of illicit actors and terrorists getting our St. Kitts and Nevis passports,” said Dr. Drew, adding that the reputation of the St. Kitts and Nevis Citizenship by Investment programme continues to be undermined by the very actions of the Timothy Harris regime.
Dr. Drew recalled prime minister Harris’ announcement in May this year that the St. Kitts and Nevis Citizenship by Investment programme is to be phased out. The announcement stunned the industry and the government backtracked falsely claiming that the prime minister’s statement was misconstrued. His office demanded and extracted a written apology from only one media outlet, when several others had carried his remarks verbatim.
He also pointed out that with the new option available, the real estate component of the Citizenship by Investment Programme will be compromised and could result in a number of ‘white elephants.’
“The Labour Administration introduced the Real Estate component which attracted persons of high income to purchase property with a value of US$400,000 or more. With the Hurricane Recovery Fund option at US$150,000 for a family of four, who is going to invest in condominiums already under construction, or to be constructed and which provide jobs in the construction industry, provides a livelihood for skilled and unskilled labourers. Building materials have to be purchased. All these provide a boost to the economy,” Dr. Drew pointed out.
“This new option puts the sustainability of the nation’s economy at risk because Dr. Harris wants a quick dollar. It undermines the value of the programme. It will further increase the already high unemployment rate and prevents our people from making a decent livelihood,” said Dr. Drew, who added that the government “lacks integrity, honesty, transparency and accountability.”
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