The Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis, Dr. Terrance Drew, set the tone for the direction his country will be taking at a recent exclusive invite-only event in Dubai.
The event was one of many engagements undertaken by the Prime Minister and his delegation which included the country’s tourism minister Marsha Henderson, Attorney-General Garth Wilkin and cabinet secretaries, Dr. Marcus Natta, Sylvester Anthony and Veira Galloway.
The new administration has been leading the country since August this year following a snap election and have set bold ambitions for the twin-island federation to become a premium business hub in the Caribbean that caters to intelligent and discerning investors.
Set against the backdrop of one of the world’s most notable success stories, Prime Minister Terrance Drew’s first visit to Dubai, signaled his intention to drive economic growth that will make the country a notable contender on the global stage.
Much of this growth will be financed by St Kitts and Nevis’ citizenship by investment programme – the oldest programme of its kind in the world.
Speaking at the event, Prime Minister Drew said, “Since Dubai is such an important financial hub and is swiftly becoming an epicentre for the global citizen, it is fitting that I am here this evening to discuss the attributes of my special nation, and more particularly our renowned citizenship by investment programme that stands apart from others.”
“In this ever-changing and unpredictable world, it is imperative that the government of St Kitts and Nevis and its citizenship by investment programme continue to adapt to the needs of our people and to attract the right kind of international investment necessary to uplift our country.”
For nearly 40 years, the citizenship by investment programme of St Kitts and Nevis has had a remarkable impact on the country, generating funds that have built and upgraded hospitals, schools, roads and diversified the economy from one mainly rooted in agriculture and tourism to a fledgling manufacturing and finance-centered one.
Dubai has emerged as one of the world’s most favourite economic destination for investors, consumers as well as job seekers and tourists. The resource deficient nation has galloped from a primitive social milieu and pre-industrial economic structure to reach what many have called the pinnacle of success.
Dubai derives just 6% of its GDP from oil and gas yet it has grown its economy’s size, starting around the year 2000, displaying annual monetary development rates higher than even China or the Asian tiger economies.
These are some of the insights the St Kitts and Nevis delegation sought to glean from the visit. This year, St Kitts and Nevis’ gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 13.39% compared to last year.
The economy of St Kitts and Nevis was traditionally depended on the growing and processing of sugar cane but decreasing world prices have hurt the industry in recent years. Tourism, export-oriented manufacturing, and offshore banking activity have assumed larger roles in the country.
The citizenship by investment programme has been a way for the government to hedge against and revitalize the faltering sugar sector while also bolstering revenue collection to better fund social programs.
With the current global environment asking more of governments around the world, the Drew administration has realized that to meet the needs of both locals and investors it needed to upgrade the programme which has been a financial pillar for the nation.
“The vision to use economic citizenship to attract international investment was innovative in 1984. The citizenship by investment programme’s first major evolution 27 years later in 2011 was bold and creative. Now, in the third iteration of its evolution, in 2022, after four decades of erudition and development, we must use that same creativity and boldness to ensure that the programme transcends to the modern age; and the security infrastructure is enhanced and strengthened.
“We need to ensure that our treasured citizenship by investment programme is mutually beneficial for all stakeholders, from the people of St Kitts and Nevis, the investors themselves, to the developers, to the local service providers and the international marketing agents.
“While we have always been the benchmark of the global investor immigration industry, we understand that in order to remain as one of the most sought-after economic citizenship programmes in the world, we need to continue to evolve and forge a path for ourselves that is sustainable in the long term,” added Prime Minister Drew.
The Prime Minister has been laser focused and hard at work since taking the helm and has had numerous consultations with stakeholders including local communities, developers, government officials, businesses and investors to understand where the programme was lacking and where updates needed to be made to ensure that the programme continues to meet the needs of an intelligent investment minded person looking for an enriching base for their families and businesses while also, more importantly, uplifting the Kittitian and Nevisian society through beneficial investment options that bring tangible value.
Prime Minister Drew also reassured guests at the event, which included high-level government officials, global investors, government approved agents and promoters, that stakeholders need not be apprehensive of the upcoming changes and that the programme would be guided by three fundamental principles: Sustainability, good governance and pragmatism.
The government has crafted a sustainable model that will continue to be the envy of the international community by injecting high levels of integrity. The programme has also been structured in such a way that it will allow for greater transparency and accountability, the hallmarks of the good governance framework that solidifies the foundation of any successful endeavour. And lastly, the government has tailored investment options to align with market realities while preserving the platinum brand that St Kitts and Nevis has nurtured for four decades.
Bold and innovative strides have been made to strengthen the legislative and administrative structures of the programme and to ensure that real estate projects funded by the programme are completed – “To this end, let it be known worldwide, that St Kitts and Nevis is seeking well respected and serious investors who see the potential of our nation and who are prepared to put capital behind innovative projects, investments and industries that will enhance our palatability to global immigration investors.”
Exact changes and information around the programme will be communicated in 2023.
The visit shows the world that St Kitts and Nevis is open for business and the Prime Minister has identified and discussed new areas of collaboration in advancing economic recovery, stability and reaffirming the solid foundation between St Kitts and Nevis and Dubai.
(Government of SKN PR)