St Kitts-Nevis citizenship programme leads region in processing applications
“The St Kitts and Nevis citizenship-by-investment (CBI) programme is still the largest processor of applications in the region… that is what the statistics will show,” St Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris stated at a press conference last week.
Harris was at the time highlighting the important structural and operational reforms that have been implemented by his administration to restore the reputation of the critically important CBI programme, since the new Team Unity government was elected to office less than nine months ago.
“Our programme is doing legitimate business and for the record, despite all of the hue and cry about its untimely passing, the truth is, this Unit in St Kitts and Nevis is still the largest processor of applications in the region. For the record, despite all the mouthing to the contrary, the St Kitts and Nevis citizenship-by-investment programme is still the largest processor of applications in the region…that is what the statistics will show,” he said.
Harris made it clear that the country had reached a critical juncture with regard the programme, which he said is now in a better place.
“We have in our view reached a critical juncture in the CBI programme. I use the analogy of the valley of dry bones from the Book of Ezekiel… somewhere after Ezekiel we move to a better land and that is where we are now taking the programme. To a better place… a place where we have begun to regain the confidence of the world and though we are not fully out of the woods, we can breathe easy again,” he explained.
The St Kitts and Nevis CBI Unit now has a computerized application management system that is best-in-class in the world, Harris noted.
“I want to hail the case management system which we have been able to introduce so that for the first time this Unit will be accessible to those who require support and service 24 hours per day/7 days per week. We wait to see the tremendous transformation and results which this would bring to our programme. We say no one in the region, no one in the world now offers this particular service,” he pointed out.
Harris explained that changes were necessary to protect a programme that had become the linchpin of social and economic life in the country but which had become plagued with problems as a consequence of mismanagement under the previous administration.
“The citizens and residents are aware that the Team Unity administration inherited a citizenship-by-investment programme that was bedeviled with problems – organizational and structural in nature. The programme had lost the confidence and support of the citizens and residents of the country who had become intolerant with the scandal plagued programme and repulsed by the incompetence and the dishonesty of the last administration which led to open condemnation of the programme by the government of the United States of America… in November of that year the public announcement coming from the government of Canada, again condemning the programme and as a consequence alerting us that our visa free access to Canada would be immediately withdrawn,” Harris said.
The prime minister acknowledged that the CBI program was under pressure, a situation which was harmful to the wellbeing of the country and people of St Kitts and Nevis. Immediate change was thus an imperative.
“The programme, as it was, was under pressure internally, organizationally and externally in terms of the international community condemning the programme and taking some dramatic actions which brought harm and disadvantage to the good citizens and holders of our passports. Symptomatic of things falling apart, weaknesses were discovered in the quality assurance mechanism not only of the management system at the unit but for the real estate market and the escrow management system begged for a legislative response. Service providers, developers and agents knew in their hearts and in their minds that what pertained then was not sustainable. Change then had to come and change came on February 16, 2015,” he continued.