Trust, transparency, integrity and rules important for a new robust CBI program

Prime Minister Harris was addressing the opening session of the IPSA International organized Caribbean Region Citizenship by Investment Forum held at the Ocean Terrace Inn on 15th June.

Service providers, government representatives from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and the European Union, are attending the three-day forum. Government delegations from Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada and St. Kitts and Nevis will use the forum to determine ways of improving and strengthening the CBI programs in their respective countries, taking into account the security concerns expressed by extra-regional governments, most notably the US and Canada.

The St. Kitts and Nevis prime minister recalled the scrutiny that the federation’s CBI program came under as the governments of the United States and Canada expressed their security concerns on several occasions to the then ruling Labour Administration. According to Harris, since taking office, the Government of National Unity has placed major priority on addressing the shortcomings in the program.

He was at pains to register the importance of the CBI program to the economy and people of St. Kitts and Nevis and said, “An IMF report indicates that fees from CBI account ‘for an increasingly large amount of budgetary revenue, from about 1% of total revenue in 2007 to 22% in 2012 and an estimated 37% in 2013.  Revenues were further increased by investment proceeds from the SIDF of 1.1% of GDP during 2010-2012’.”

Harris stated, “Without this option, the St. Kitts Nevis socio-economic experience would have been dramatically different. So I don’t have to convince you that I remain a supporter of this Program.”

But he believes that making the program accountable and better managed is about re-establishing and sustaining trust and confidence.

On that Harris said, “As we all know well, trust can be a scarce commodity. We may build and consolidate it with years of hard work only to lose it in an instance. When trust is squandered, ladies and gentlemen, regaining it can be difficult and lengthy. But the trust that attends this business has many components.”

He continued, “As governments, it is incumbent on us to put in place the best regulatory frameworks to protect the system against abuse. We must promote transparency and integrity at all levels. We need robust legal, administrative and oversight firewalls to make sure that only the best candidates ever become citizens.”

According to the prime minister, a properly managed Citizenship by Investment Program can be “an invaluable asset for any country”.

He cautioned, however, that Eastern Caribbean countries with CBI programs must resist the temptation, in this era, to go it alone.

“Make no mistake, although we are separate jurisdictions; in bad times, we will all be seen as simply “Caribbean jurisdictions”, said Harris, who added, “Whatever ‘virus’ infects an individual jurisdiction, we could easily see the contagion erupt throughout the sub-region.”

It is for such a reason that Prime Minister Harris earlier proposed a CBI Caribbean meeting as a better option to a single country upgrading its program by itself.

“As the industry grows, it must be better managed, staffed with professionals whose work is guided by transparent rules and regulations,” Harris said. “We have to work together to frustrate criminal intent, activities and resources that seek to find any weak link to exploit it.”

The prime minister said that what St. Kitts and Nevis wants a CBI “product that can stand the test of scrutiny, accountability and time”.




 

Trust, transparency, integrity and rules important for a new robust CBI program

Prime Minister Harris was addressing the opening session of the IPSA International organized Caribbean Region Citizenship by Investment Forum held at the Ocean Terrace Inn on 15th June.

Service providers, government representatives from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and the European Union, are attending the three-day forum. Government delegations from Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada and St. Kitts and Nevis will use the forum to determine ways of improving and strengthening the CBI programs in their respective countries, taking into account the security concerns expressed by extra-regional governments, most notably the US and Canada.

The St. Kitts and Nevis prime minister recalled the scrutiny that the federation’s CBI program came under as the governments of the United States and Canada expressed their security concerns on several occasions to the then ruling Labour Administration. According to Harris, since taking office, the Government of National Unity has placed major priority on addressing the shortcomings in the program.

He was at pains to register the importance of the CBI program to the economy and people of St. Kitts and Nevis and said, “An IMF report indicates that fees from CBI account ‘for an increasingly large amount of budgetary revenue, from about 1% of total revenue in 2007 to 22% in 2012 and an estimated 37% in 2013.  Revenues were further increased by investment proceeds from the SIDF of 1.1% of GDP during 2010-2012’.”

Harris stated, “Without this option, the St. Kitts Nevis socio-economic experience would have been dramatically different. So I don’t have to convince you that I remain a supporter of this Program.”

But he believes that making the program accountable and better managed is about re-establishing and sustaining trust and confidence.

On that Harris said, “As we all know well, trust can be a scarce commodity. We may build and consolidate it with years of hard work only to lose it in an instance. When trust is squandered, ladies and gentlemen, regaining it can be difficult and lengthy. But the trust that attends this business has many components.”

He continued, “As governments, it is incumbent on us to put in place the best regulatory frameworks to protect the system against abuse. We must promote transparency and integrity at all levels. We need robust legal, administrative and oversight firewalls to make sure that only the best candidates ever become citizens.”

According to the prime minister, a properly managed Citizenship by Investment Program can be “an invaluable asset for any country”.

He cautioned, however, that Eastern Caribbean countries with CBI programs must resist the temptation, in this era, to go it alone.

“Make no mistake, although we are separate jurisdictions; in bad times, we will all be seen as simply “Caribbean jurisdictions”, said Harris, who added, “Whatever ‘virus’ infects an individual jurisdiction, we could easily see the contagion erupt throughout the sub-region.”

It is for such a reason that Prime Minister Harris earlier proposed a CBI Caribbean meeting as a better option to a single country upgrading its program by itself.

“As the industry grows, it must be better managed, staffed with professionals whose work is guided by transparent rules and regulations,” Harris said. “We have to work together to frustrate criminal intent, activities and resources that seek to find any weak link to exploit it.”

The prime minister said that what St. Kitts and Nevis wants a CBI “product that can stand the test of scrutiny, accountability and time”.








 

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