British high commissioner presents credentials to St. Kitts and Nevis’ PM
From the press unit in the Office of the Prime Minister
BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – The Honourable Dr. Timothy Harris was visited at his office Jan. 18 by British non-resident High Commissioner to St. Kitts and Nevis Her Excellency Janet Douglas CMG, who presented her credentials to the prime minister.
During the brief meeting, which was also attended by Cabinet Secretary Josephine Huggins, Prime Minister Harris and Her Excellency Janet Douglas discussed a number of matters, including the implications of Brexit, as well as the issue of de-risking and the black-listing of CARICOM countries as noncooperative tax jurisdictions.
St. Kitts and Nevis has long enjoyed an outstanding relationship with the United Kingdom (UK) based on shared values, language, similarities between legal and political systems, and a large diaspora presence in the UK.
“One of the matters for us which is of tremendous importance is that of de-risking and the implications of that on our ability to participate in the international economy, [as well as] the challenges to our banking system, which rely upon the correspondent banks externally to assist us in our participation,” Harris said to Douglas. “Those challenges seem to become more and more pressing each day and we are asking that our friends in those countries who can assist us to have a re-examination of the implication of this.”
Harris also used his meeting with the visiting UK ambassador to further advocate for international development partners to revisit their policies on access to concessionary financing by vulnerable countries. He argues that the per capita income approach, which is a significant criterion used in development cooperation funding, is an impediment to Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in securing concessional funding.
“It means that we have to look at a broader composite measure for determining graduation, and yet accept the fact that small states, like those in the Caribbean, would always be at systemic disadvantage having regard to their size and narrowness of their economies, and therefore there can’t be a one-size-fits-all in terms of the per capita GDP criteria, as important as that is as a gauge and a reflection of where countries are,” he said.
Douglas was in agreement with Harris in regard to the role the United Kingdom can play in assisting SIDS like St. Kitts and Nevis. As it relates to concessional funding for vulnerable countries, she said “the passage through the Caribbean in September of two devastating hurricanes, Irma and Maria, I think has been a wakeup call to the international community about how, in a matter of hours, a country’s GDP can be devastated. This has given the international community a pause for thought, and I think certainly you can count on our support to further the interest of Small Island Developing States, particularly in the Caribbean on these extremely high profile and important issues.”
In April 2018, the UK will host the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), where leaders from all member countries, including St. Kitts and Nevis, are expected to gather in London and Windsor for high-level discussions.
While in the federation, Douglas also paid a courtesy call on the Governor-General His Excellency Sir S. W. Tapley Seaton, GCMG, CVO, QC, JP.