By Loshaun Dixon
Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris, responding to a question posed by this publication at a People’s Labour Party press conference, about the issue of Nevis receiving its fair share of Citizenship By Investment (CBI) receipts, has revealed that no one has ever brought the matter to the cabinet.
“There is no cabinet submission; no cabinet memo in relation to that. There have been public expressions of it, but it has never come into the cabinet over which I preside up to this particular moment.”
He also asserted that it is not true that he doesn’t want to give Nevis its fair share.
“Truth be told, every arrangement we have made in relation to allocations to Nevis, they have come after the presentations were made to me by the Premiers of Nevis in regard to this matter.
Premier Vance Amory came, we had a discussion over what he had proposed and what he thought then was reasonable.”
He said when Premier Amory left the political scene, Premier Brantley made proposals.
“We had a discussion, and I agreed after consultation with our experts that we will undertake to increase the allocation to Nevis by 50%…from $30M where there was none before, to $45M. I have never been unreasonable with respect to this matter.”
Dr Harris said he has a federal responsibility and the laws of the land to guide him, regarding the arrangements that have always stood, and have never been interfered with.
“Every year, beyond what has been agreed, proposed by the Premiers of Nevis and accepted by me through discussion, we have always given Nevis more.”
He noted there are programs the federal government implemented on Nevis paid with federal resources, and added that his administration has been fair to Nevis.
“I have always listened, always tried to make the right decision, not relying only on my wisdom but the wisdom of persons who have been in government for a very long time.
The prime minister said that he has also been seeking to find a permanent solution for the people of Nevis.
“I have been saying this to the Premiers…let us get the experts…an independent person to come in and look at what we are doing and give us advice on the way forward. For me, this is critically important if we are to have an enduring settlement for a period of time.”
He noted Clause 110 of the Constitution that sets out how money is to be distributed within the federal entity and Nevis Island Administration.
Dr Harris explained that in relation to money from net revenue, there must be consideration that there are certain expenses that fall under the federal umbrella, and they have to be pro-rata in some way.
“Get the expertise and not have a discussion, as it would be settled properly.”
He said he agreed in principle to make an interim payment after a recent request by the premier, but added that it needs to be looked at in a permanent way.
“We can’t come when the budget is already done and planned and say we need this or we need that, because it creates some awkwardness at the level of management of resources of the state.
“If we could get it done properly, that could help us in the medium and long term. The manner in which we were doing it would not lead to the best results.”
He said it was important to look at it, so that it is fair to the people of St Kitts and fair to the people of Nevis.
Premier Brantley has repeatedly claimed that Nevis has not received a fair share of Citizenship By Investment (CBI) revenue, and has done so publicly.
During a recent press conference, Brantley again expressed his dissatisfaction with what he insists is the disproportionate allocation of CBI monies between the two islands. He said Nevis continues to be grossly shortchanged in the existing revenue-sharing arrangement.
“In 2021, when the country and the world were still in the grips of this pandemic, St. Kitts and Nevis had a windfall insofar as CBI was concerned, and we would have earned north of $500 million from CBI. It is a fact that Nevis got no more than it always got. So Nevis got the same amount from the proceeds of the CBI in 2019, in 2020, in 2021, and that is $3.75 million per month.
“It is a matter that I’ve raised with the Honourable Prime Minister, because for me and the island of Nevis it is unacceptable. I’ve said this cannot be how the country is going to function going forward – that out of, I believe, $588 million, Nevis got $45 million.”