Findings Of An Internal Review Of The Citizenship By Investment Programme Revealed An Overdependence On CBI Revenue By The Former Administration

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Basseterre, St. Kitts – Prime Minister and Minister of National Security and Immigration, the Honourable Dr. Terrance Drew, delivered a statement in the National Assembly on Tuesday, March 26, 2024, that revealed some startling and troubling facts regarding the management of the country’s Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Programme under the former administration, and outlined the significant steps by his administration to strengthen the CBI and rebuild trust and confidence in the programme amongst international partners.

Chief among the concerning revelations that came after an internal review of the Citizenship by Investment Programme was the issue of over-reliance on the programme by the previous administration. This, Dr. Drew said, led to unscrupulous practices and underselling that ultimately compromised the standing and reputation of the country’s CBI programme.

“In the last five years of the previous administration, CBI generated fifty (50) percent of the overall cash revenue for the Federal Government. In the last two years of the previous administration, the CBI generated fifty-seven (57) percent of the overall cash revenue for the Federal Government. This is the truest economic example of putting all of one’s eggs in one basket,” Dr. Drew said.

Such dependence on the economic citizenship programme was identified as a cause for concern by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in its report on the 2022 performance of the Federation’s economy.

“The IMF in their report examining the 2022 performance of our economy said ‘the growing dependence on volatile and uncertain CBI revenue is a major source of vulnerability. Directors called for reducing heavy dependence on unpredictable CBI revenue through improved structural fiscal policies, enhanced accountability and use for investments in reliance and building buffers,” the prime minister said, noting that the IMF report underpinned the concerns shared by his administration.

In addressing this problem, Prime Minister Dr. Drew said one of the first priorities upon assuming office was expanding and diversifying the Federation’s economy.

“In 2022, CBI revenue reached an unsustainable level of sixty (60) percent of total Federal Government revenue. This unsustainable status quo cannot continue and our administration has been focused on diversifying our economy. That is why economic diversification is one of the seven pillars of our sustainable island state agenda Madame Speaker,” Dr. Drew said.

He added, “The economy that we envisioned will see major inflows from tourism, major inflows from construction, major inflows from water and energy infrastructure, major inflows from the creative economy, agriculture, offshore education, major inflows from manufacturing and more. No longer can we continue to be so reliant on a single leg and that single leg is the CBI programme.”

Mindful of its mandate to protect the interest of the twin-island Federation, the government acted swiftly and decisively to strengthen the programme with the support of its regional and international partners.

“We bolstered our legislative and administrative frameworks…to curtail any underselling, we reinstated the primacy of law within our CBI Programme and we terminated unscrupulous advertising practices. In all of this, we made sure that we were not going to compromise the security of St. Kitts and Nevis or any other country, especially our international partners,” Dr. Drew stated.

The prime minister’s statement came on the same day the Citizenship by Investment Unit Bill, 2024, was introduced and had its first reading in the National Assembly. This bill provides for the establishment of a Citizenship by Investment Unit for Saint Christopher and Nevis as a body corporate, having perpetual succession and a common seal and may sue and be sued in its corporate name.

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