SIDF contracts, arrangements ‘mind-boggling’, says Prime Minister Harris

Speaking in parliament on June 30, Prime Minister Harris also blamed the previous administration for what he called “irresponsible exposure of our country”.

He said, “The situation is tenuous and difficult. In order to protect certain confidences and not create irreparable damage for several entities, I cannot at this time disclose too much.  What I can say is that both the financial position of SIDF [and] the level of commitments and nature of several arrangements and contracts in which it engaged are mind-boggling, and, in my view, not in the public interest.  As we learn more, we know that the SIDF cannot continue the unsatisfactory ways of the past.  We cannot continue its wayward path.”

He indicated that the government “must move carefully. The risks are high”, but he did not expand on what the associated risks were to the country.

Further, Prime Minister Harris refuted statements by the former prime minister and others that the SIDF had unreleased audited financial statements, an issue that played prominently in the last elections in which the then opposition Team Unity claimed a lack of transparency in the SIDF’s operations.

In parliament on Tuesday, Harris said the claims of unpublished SIDF audited accounts had no basis in fact. He said, “Contrary to promises and undertakings given by the former regime, no audited financial statements are available for the SIDF for the years ending 2012, 2013, nor 2014.  Every effort is now being made to correct this long anomaly, which created a climate for the worst atrocities to take place.  We have signaled to all, the game of hide-and-seek – hide the accounts, seek money for SIDF – will not continue.”

Speaking on the Citizenship by Investment (CBI) program, the prime minister said the government is continuing to dialogue with the governments of Canada and the United States to address their concerns and to rebuild their trust in the St. Kitts and Nevis CBI program.

But he also raised concerns about special accounts and practices related to the CBI.

“There are many issues relating to management of escrow accounts, quality of real estate developments, condominium versus hotel development and sale of individual homes as CBI projects which we must address, Prime Minister Harris said, continuing, “For the time being, my government has stayed the granting of approval for persons to sell individual properties under the CBI programme.  We are advised that that policy had no basis in law and did very little for the country as a whole, more perniciously, it created an unleveled playing field where government chose those whose properties would benefit and discriminated against all others.”

According to the prime minister, CBI administration is expected to be enhanced with the recent implementation of integrated software that also facilitates improvements in the processing of CBI applications.


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