Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis Dr. Timothy Harris is not fazed by the recent move from the government of Antigua and Barbuda to reduce the cost for contributions for their Citizenship by Investment Programme. This came after the introduction of a hurricane relief fund by the Federation’s government as a cheaper option than the two pre-existing offerings from the programme.
Following the passage of Hurricanes Maria and Irma St. Kitts and Nevis established a Hurricane relief fund that sliced in half the price of the contribution option of the CBI, that was widely criticised as sparking a race to the bottom to earn quick funds using the hurricanes as a rationale.
The Prime Minister however stated that the federation suffered significant damages from the hurricanes nearing $150m and the government was trying to restore normalcy as soon as possible.
Dr. Harris also rubbished claims that the new price point would undercut the CBI in other countries that were more severely impacted.
The Prime Minister earlier this month explained that the Hurricane relief fund price at USD $150,000 is 50 percent higher than the $100,000 set by other jurisdictions.
Antigua and Barbuda last week halved the cost for that country’s citizenship under the National Development Fund (NDF) to US $100,000 from US $200,000.
According the Antiguan Observer the announcement came from by Prime Minister Gaston Browne who indicated over the last two months, there have only been three applications under the NDF.
The Prime Minister said the 50 percent price reduction for citizenship under the NDF is necessary to earn revenue to rebuild Barbuda that was devastated by Hurricane Irma.
Here in St. Kitts and Nevis However PM Harris continues to stress that the government has not reduced the cost of earning the citizenship but added a third product to the offering.
“We have three distinct products in the market our real estate product our SIDF product and we introduced a third option. The only places there have been a lowering is with respect to Antigua because that was an existing product that had now been prized 50 percent below.
“We had not lowered the price of any of our offerings through the CBI programme.”
Dr Harris however indicated that government is not bothered by the recent reduction by Antigua and Barbuda and will focus on the products that the Federation will have to offer
“We are not giving undue considerations to what has happen in Antigua or any other country. We remain focused on promoting and marketing our programme as the one in which the discerning investor would want to pay attention to and we want to invite investors who are looking for an enduring relationship with our country and not just for the mere acquisition of citizenship.
He added that his administration decided not to compete with the prices of their Caribbean Neighbours but offer a preserve the brand of the product.
“When we came to government we determined that we have to restructure, reorganize and reorient our programme we became satisfied that St. Kitts and Nevis would be and should be the Platinum Brand and that is why even when others before now- for example in august both Antigua and Dominica reduced substantially the price of their contribution we took the decision that we are not going to follow suit…we have attempted to preserve that particular brand of our product.”
PM Harris further explained that the governments who have a CBI programme do not have an agreement to where they meet and determine a price. “Each country each jurisdiction has its sovereign wish and will make those judgment calls and we respect that, and will let the market play out in terms of its response to these issues.”
Dr. Harris also noted the pronouncements by Head of the Citizenship by Investment Unit Les Khan who indicated that the market response has been very healthy to the three offerings by the programme in St. Kitts and Nevis.