February 26, 2020

Reconstruction of CBI Programme – A critical imperative for SKN


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April 30th 2019

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves in 2014 wrote an article on The Idea of  and in it he explains why he believes Caribbean governments could learn from Barbados in searching for solutions to contemporary challenges facing the region. Gonsalves locates Barbados as above  the rest of the region, most highly developed, best infrastructure, best attitudes, uniquely prepared to overcome the crisis currently engulfing the region, and therefore a model to follow.

Such a piece on and Nevis might equally offer some telling truths about the goals of and Nevis as they move forward. and Nevis is special. It possesses capital that locates the country as a global performer. We said in a previous editorial that and Nevis possesses some secrets and can be viewed as a model state and embraces ‘the idea of St Kitts and Nevis.

In December 2016, St Kitts and Nevis clinched two coveted awards at the World Telecommunications/ICT Indicators Symposium held in Botswana. St Kitts and Nevis moved up an impressive 20 positions making it the most dynamic country in terms of ICT use worldwide. The overall rankings for the Caribbean region also showed St Kitts and Nevis leading followed by Barbados and the Bahamas in selected indices.

More recently, St Kitts and Nevis was ranked 30th place of 126 countries in the World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index 2019. The WJP’s annual Rule of Law Index is the most comprehensive assessment of different jurisdictions’ adherence to the rule of law. The WJP published a recent report, in which St Kitts and Nevis, came 2nd of the Caribbean islands and beat many European countries and the United States in categories such as ‘Fundamental Rights’, ‘Civil Justice’, and ‘Order & Security. This global acknowledgement speaks to the attributes that can move St Kitts and Nevis forward.

Just this month, in the first week of April 2019 to be exact, St. Kitts and Nevis added another accolade to its thriving tourism industry with a big win globally by capturing the Destination Stewardship Award at the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) 2019 Tourism for Tomorrow Awards which took place in Spain. These global achievements contribute to making St Kitts and Nevis special.

What is causing this movement forward?

The efforts in recent times to engage real possibilities of building resilience and resource mobilization is an indication of what the new leaders in St Kitts and Nevis are focusing on. The idea of building an ICT agenda while connecting to the world through improved tourism infrastructure will pay dividends. The twin impact of this strategy is to secure growth.

This growth strategy can be evidenced in St Kitts and Nevis since 2015 where the country recorded positive economic growth while reducing its debt ratio. The tourism-dependent economy of St Kitts and Nevis continues to demonstrate bold leadership as they pay needed attention to the upgrade of the physical infrastructure. There can be no doubt that the investment in a new cruise pier is well located to reposition the small island state. St Kitts and Nevis made history on July 16, 2018 by being recognized by the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) as a marquee tourist destination when the one millionth cruise passenger graced the shores of the twin island Federation. Tourism investment is moving St Kitts and Nevis forward.

However, what happens when a tragedy like that of the magnitude of what struck Dominica in September 2017 where its tourism product was severely damaged. Leaders within the region must plan for unforeseen disasters which can wipe away gains overnight.

Re-Imagining St Kitts and Nevis

St Kitts and Nevis must find new engagements to “re-imagine” its current agenda. Re-imagined agendas are needed which can carry the country forward. In this regard, the Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programme must be a critical part of re-imagining St Kitts and Nevis. Forward believes and the evidence supports that the CBI programme can unlock a key component to building resilience and resource mobilisation.

St Kitts and Nevis, a small nation launched the world’s first CBI programme nearly 30 years ago in response to an economic downturn. Canada launched their programme in 1986 and the USA in 1990. Yet another well-kept secret of the region. With the success of the St Kitts and Nevis programme that has transformed the island’s economy in recent years, others followed – Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, and Grenada have subsequently launched their own CBI programmes.

The CBI programme of St Kitts and Nevis had its integrity tested in November of 2014 when the Canadian Government was moved to impose visa restrictions on citizens of the twin island federation. This punitive measure now requires ALL citizens of St Kitts and Nevis to apply for a Canadian visa. This act led to a fall in critical CBI revenues from 2014 onwards. Revenues are reported at just under EC 300 million per year in recent times.

In 2015, the new government of St Kitts and Nevis announced 22 reforms aimed at strengthening the CBI programme. Considerable efforts to reverse the damage done continue to this present day. The Westminster model of governance as inherited from the colonial times is very much intact. We have the Team Unity administration that inherited the harm done to the CBI. As a matter of priority, they must continue to implement corrective measures. This is governance at work under the Westminster system. The current Team Unity government must own up and take all necessary decisions that can steer the ship back on course. The intervention by the present Team Unity government must be commended. As a small developing nation, leaders who seek to do peril to the financial architecture of the landscape must be held accountable. This should not be an issue for nationals today!!!

The one sad occurrence in all of this is the people of SKN who did not make the decisions but are the ones who were punished. This is an absurdity. St Kitts Nevis must firmly address this issue of Canadian visa restrictions with vigour to ensure it can move its people and country forward. Opportunities are lost daily, weekly, monthly and annually as this ban remains.

Given the critical importance of the CBI programme to national development there must be a legislated boundary beyond which no one will traverse. It’s mind boggling for any citizen to seek to do harm to the profile of the country. Self-inflicted attempts to undermine this programme could only be deemed as unpatriotic. It’s an imperative that the character of St Kitts and Nevis remains strong in the eyes of international citizens looking to invest. The health of the CBI programme should be the ownership of every citizen.

The country should regard the CBI programme more so than Tourism as the sacred cow. How does a small country pioneer such a programme that sets developed nations like Canada and USA to adopt similar models? The current path of repairing and improving the CBI programme must be continued not just for the citizens of the twin island federation but for its regional sister nations many of whom, like Barbados for instance, may need to call upon the model to help them overcome difficult national fiscal and developmental challenges.St Kitts and Nevis continues to withhold the jewels of its successes. These are the untold secrets of St Kitts and Nevis.

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