Countries in the Eastern Caribbean involved in Citizenship By Investment programmes (CBI) have discussed regulating their individual programmes to a common standard that will see an introduction of a minimum price.
Speaking at a recent ECCU Monetary Council press briefing Prime Minister of Dominica Roosevelt Skerrit said that they (other members) have been discussing the issue of CBI programmes among themselves as heads of government and also at the level of the heads of the various units. “There’s a draft memorandum of understanding (MOU) which all of us have agreed to in principle that’s been discussed among our technical people.”
He added that he was hopeful that at the CARICOM heads of government meeting in Haiti in the coming weeks to finalize the MOU. “That would speak to a number of areas of standardization and ensuring that there is a greater sharing of information.
“We are mindful of the issues and it is something that we have to address collectively and to see where we can uniformity in our approach, our application forms, our sharing information, our legislation and what have you and I must say all of the countries which have the CBI programs are very keen on this collaboration and this cooperation it’s a matter for us to meet and to finalize it and have it ratified and implemented,” Dominican PM noted.
Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis Dr. Timothy Harris rejected the notion that countries in the region with similar programmes have entered into a “race to the bottom” and indicated that countries set their CBI prices according to their specific needs of the day.
“I think that sometimes the language gets emotive in terms of a race to the bottom and I don’t know if that is in fact justified. When we look at the history of the CBI programs not just within the Caribbean but elsewhere, they have always been priced differently.
“I do not think that we have engaged in a race to the bottom, Antigua for example in August 2017 made adjustments to their pricing fees, Dominica made adjustments then, post hurricane St Kitts made adjustments and all those are befitting the relevant determinations made at particular moments in time,” Dr. Harris explained.
He added that the ECCU will be aiming to set a minimum price when the MOU comes into effect.”I believe that some of the prices reflect different realities, different realities in terms of the market acceptance, and different realities in terms where people are in the program and so some differences will be sustained and of necessity will occur.”
He continued, “The question to the right price I think is what I think we are attempting to get closer to and to set minimum levels beyond which we think that it would not send the right market signal if we would want to go.”
Skerrit also spoke to the issue of the programme in St. Kitts and Nevis reducing its prices following the passage of hurricanes Irma and Maria with the latter causing widespread damages in Dominica. “I can tell you publicly that we have no issue with St Kitts reducing its price.
“St Kitts has to deal with certain realities and as a government it has to make decisions in the interest of its citizens, so we have no issue with St Kitts reducing its price to treat with its current day realities.
“But what we have agreed to do is to agree on a minimum and nobody will go below that minimum so that the issue of price wars and so forth or whatever it is, but I don’t want you in the media to keep using this race to the bottom,” Skerit stated.