By Staff Reporter
“Mr. Brantley’s comments on CBI receipts are quite perplexing. Confusing may be the better expression. Let it not go unnoticed that so far under Team Unity, a record transfer of over 250 million dollars has been provided by the Federal Government to the Nevis Island Administration (NIA).”
This assertion was made by an official of the Ministry of Finance in St. Kitts, in response to Nevis Premier Mark Brantley’s repeated claim that Nevis is not satisfied with its fair share of Citizenship By Investment (CBI) proceeds.
“The curious thing about this situation is that the Premier and two others in Nevis’ cabinet are in the federal cabinet. They are at the table. What are they doing to address matters when there? Premier Brantley should say exactly how he has approached the issue with his federal cabinet colleagues,” the official said.
“Why doesn’t anyone in the media ask him whether he will apply the clause 110 formula in the constitution for revenue sharing? Can any formula for revenue sharing that goes against clause 110 stand?
“These are pertinent questions that need to be asked of the Premier and all those who continue to complain ad nauseam about Nevis not getting its fair share. This is not only grandstanding. It is counter-productive,” the official concluded.
When questioned by the media during his monthly press conference on October 6, Premier Brantley reiterated his claim that Nevis is dissatisfied with its CBI receipts.
“CBI programme…Is Nevis satisfied with its share? The answer is no…and the answer is going to be no, until we have a resolution of the issue between the Federal Government and the NIA about the issue of CBI receipts. That is the reality of the situation.
“I have said time and time again that there has to be a sit down – the two, Federal Government and NIA, have to sit and work out a formula for sharing what is a joint asset.”
Brantley claimed that CBI has funded a large number of opportunities on the sister island of St. Kitts, while Nevis has not been treated the same.
“CBI has been, by and large, the only game in town. Let’s be blunt about it. CBI has fuelled tremendous activity on the island of St. Kitts – Park Hyatt…you know, the big development that’s down in the St. Paul’s area, Kittitian Hill, there’s also the big development, Ramada, and you see a lot of developments that have been done there. There’s a huge development that Mr. Caines has done by the Airport.
“You see support for customers at SKELEC, you see support for the airlines coming in to RLB…all of that is coming from Citizenship By Investment. A lot of the stimulus that we were able to offer is coming from Citizenship By Investment. A lot of the surpluses that we talk about each year, Citizenship By Investment.”
“In Nevis, I am borrowing…to keep Nevis afloat. St. Kitts has surplus from Citizenship By Investment.
“I don’t say these things to create any animosity, these are the facts. And so there has to be a reckoning between the two islands as to how these resources are shared.”
Brantley admitted that Nevis gets a fixed monthly amount from the Federal government as part of the processing fees, but added that it would be interesting to have some perspective in relation to what St. Kitts receives. He also emphasized that it was time for the matter to be definitively dealt with.
“I’m saying that’s fine (receiving a fixed monthly amount) but let us look at the bigger picture. We have had, I believe, some misguided commentators who treat it as if Nevis is being given a gift, or help. I don’t see how when you get something that belongs to you its help.
“But there are some who have taken that particular line, which I think is unfortunate. And some…and the figure that I hear bandied about mostly is two hundred million…“Nevis get two hundred million”. Sounds like a lot of money. And a lot of people…that’s the headline, ‘Nevis gets two hundred million’. You know what headline I’ve never seen? ‘How much does St. Kitts get?’ That would be a very interesting headline to look at.”
“Nobody seems concerned about that question. But everybody is concerned about how much Nevis getting. How much does the island of St. Kitts get? And if that question could be answered, I believe that then we would have some perspective, as to why I say that the current arrangement in relation to CBI is still not satisfactory, and has to be worked out.
“I have said to the Honourable Prime Minister, whose department handles this programme, that Unity has been there now six years. It is time for this particular matter to be dealt with and put to rest. It is beyond time!” Brantley stated emphatically.
He pointed out that before the Unity government took power, Nevis received no monies from the CBI, only by way of loan.
He said that it is time for Nevisians to be treated as part of the country, and “as equal citizens who are entitled to the fruits of their citizenship”.
“I’ll end by saying that Nevis is doing much better; because if you move from zero to something you are doing much better. And we were at zero.
“So now we can say that we are getting something from the Citizenship By Investment Programme, but when you look at the overall analysis, we are not getting anywhere close to our fair share from that programme, and I want to make that very clear.”