We make no apologies to state at the outset that St. Kitts & Nevis and more particularly Nevis, God’s own country should welcome the Syrians with open arms. We posit that people everywhere and from whatever clime and culture have always been nomadic. Abraham went out by faith no knowing whither he went. He knew as we all now know that God is on the side of those who have a good conscience and who are willing to live honestly. National boundaries have been erected where people wish to consolidate their gains and their culture but have operated to deny societies the blessings of the nomadic nature of mankind. National boundaries have therefore served to reduce and rob mankind of the very ethos of diversity and the joie de vivre of sharing and caring.
We note and view with alarm the United States government Trumpeting the cries of protectionism and commencing its decline by being xenophobic. We say that if this prison that the good people of the world are creating for themselves with barbed wires and electric walls is not reversed we shall eat each other in our own bubble soon. We look with consternation on a nation created by immigrants who forcibly butchered and subdued the Native Americans now has the dastard and bare-facedness to bar people who are coming with peace and prosperity from other shores. How ironic that a man whose wife is a “drifter” from some far-fetched no name country can now debar all great peoples of the world from coming to America. Mark you when we are in another man’s country we are spending our hard-earned money and by so doing creating and maintaining economic activity.
St. Kitts and Nevis should step up to the international plate and offer sanctuary to the Syrian people who through no fault of their own have to flee Syria. We think we should have a humanitarian heart and soul. However without prejudice and without any apology I say in the public interest that this is not about humanitarism. This is about economics and driving our economy. The first point is that the Syrians are good honest people who have been trapped in a civil war. They have given the world a unique quality; that of shopkeepers and traders. We have had our small share in commercial Basseterre and Charlestown. The Syrians are not repeat NOT poor refugees going abroad like Bedouins and paupers. They have money. Plenty of it. They have skills that are needed to further the development of mankind. If we think that the Germans who have taken 650,000 Syrians have taken them in because they are poor think again. Canada has taken so far 39,000 and are calling for all those rejected by their misguided neighbours. Now if Canada and Germany Europe’s largest economy are virtually campaigning for Syrians why should not St. Kitts and Nevis.
We have already said that the Syrians are good people. St. Kitts and Nevis needs a population growth made up of people rich in funds, faith and fortitude. We here in Nevis are starving for anything named growth. The last four years have been hellish on a wintry earth. St. Kitts is losing its appeal as a Citizenship by Investment haven. The US and its big partners who are selling Citizenship have declared that we are persona non grata in that lucrative field of national and international endeavour. We have to think out of the box and invite a slew of Syrians with money, resources and skill to St. Kitts and Nevis. The Syrians could more than look after themselves and our public places and infrastructure are half full anyway. The Syrian refugee crisis opens up a door of economic opportunity and activity in these our halcyon islands.
Let me set the priorities and as we say in cricket: the field. We have plenty land in St. Kitts and Nevis to settle the Syrians. Where they will settle can be answered by one word: anywhere. We have hills, lowlands, plains and plateaus in these halcyon isles. No longer must we wail that we are selling our land to foreigners. That is a misnomer. We are doing business on planet earth with its citizens whom God has sent our way to bless us. What they will do is to be answered as any economic activity they chose within our laws. How they will live is to be answered with making them feel at home. We invite our people to accept them with open arms and eyes. Sell them our property, land and goods. Make our money and continue to invest and advance our island paradise. We expect every family to be worth US$1million on entry into the country. We wish to offer them some form of citizenship or permanent residence. We shall deep-six the harbinger and death-trap of development that wretched Alien Landholding Licence. That done our islands will be decked with new architectural brilliance and our economy will set sail again.
In the public interest we are somewhat selfish. We eat drink and sleep the stuff of real estate development in all its forms. We desperately need a sale of the more than 100 properties in Nevis that have been advertised for many a year. Say nothing of the condos/villas and rental apartments decking the landscape. Something has to give. It better be for the sanctity and sanity of the stock holders that real estate sales get a boost. We envisage that Nevis can hold a modest 1,000 even 500 families at the outset. We have space for many more. We have the infrastructure to make their lives merry. St. Kitts can hold much more in its many empty condos and rental apartments. If we encourage the Syrians here we expect to pump into the national economy no less than US$100 million in the very short term. That will do numberless blessings on an already tundra dry economy with nothing but a wall to face going forward.
Our taxi drivers, realtors, property managers, maids, gardeners and landscape providers will cash in. Doctors, lawyers, engineers, teachers and nurses will follow suit. Our public infrastructure will take off as we developed lands and build houses for them. We need not fear as the late PM Bird remarked when he was accused of bringing foreign investment to Antigua: “they cannot put the buildings on their head and take them when they are ready to leave. Those buildings are here forever.” The Syrians are human beings with a developed mantra and mind set. We can learn a lot from and teach each other. These are people from the first civilization. Let us tell our representatives and our government to make haste and deliver economic impetus to our shores without spending a cent. Let us open our hearts and homes and let light shine in the darkness of the visiting Syrians and in this dark economy we have here on Nevis. SELAH.