Basseterre, St. Kitts, March 09, 2017 (SKNIS): After two years of the St. Kitts and Nevis passports being recalled because of the removal of the place of birth under the previous administration, the official travel document comes in for high praises, as it is now ranked number one in the Organization of the Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), number two in CARICOM behind Bahamas, and number 50 in the world of 199 countries and territories.
This was revealed by Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, who was at the time quoting the Nomad Passport Index-2017 during his monthly press conference on Thursday, March 09. Dr. Harris also mentioned that St. Kitts and Nevis now has the sixth strongest passport in the hemisphere and the fourth in Latin America and the Caribbean.
“The methodology used in this most recent passport ranking considered among other factors visa-free travel, which they accorded a high score of 50 percent, taxation policy, issues to do with freedom, and the facility with which persons can have more than one citizenship among others,” said Prime Minister Harris. “It is amazing that in two years international confidence in our passports is now at an all-time high.”
Dr. Harris said that policy actions such as the removal of the place of birth made St. Kitts and Nevis’ passports vulnerable to attacks. He added that it was against this backdrop that the government made it extremely important to ensure that this was corrected.
“Specific initiatives of my government such as increasing our diplomatic footprint and the number of countries with which we now have visa-free entry have helped. So too, have our competitive tax policy, the high level of democratic freedoms including press freedoms enjoyed here and the enhanced reputation of our country attributed inter-alia to the platinum status of our recognized Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Programme resulting in our prestigious standing,” said the prime minister. “The international acclaim of St. Kitts and Nevis as a tourist destination, as well as our exceptionally high ranking among the most dynamic countries investing in ICT’s, our fiscal surpluses and tax free budgets have no doubt also impacted positively on the perception of our beloved country.”
Prime Minister Harris said that records provided by the Canadian Bank Note (CBN) stated that some 15,197 regular passports, 91 diplomatic and 39 official passports were issued without the country of birth field by the former regime. He said the government acted expeditiously to ensure that the use of these passports was discontinued.
“My government has taken the decision to deactivate all passports issued by the former government without the country of birth field. All such holders will have to reapply for a new passport with the relevant country of birth field and they will pay the cost of the new passport,” he said. “This is an imperative to safeguard the integrity of our passport, to comply with international best practices, and to satisfy our commitment to being a responsible member of the international community.”
The prime minister issued a reminder to all citizens whose travel documents does not contain the place of birth, to ensure that their passports have at least six months validity before they make any arrangement to travel. He added that by doing this, passport holders will avoid inconveniences in their travels.