Everson W. Hull Ph.D
In a recent Facebook post, a prolific writer said: ” …Nevis promise a hotel every year and after 23 years we ain’t see any…” I believe that if the author paused for a momentary interval, he would quickly realize that he is missing two salient points:
(1) Hotels are built with money; and (2) The proceeds from the sale of our highly valued passports which are jointly owned by both St. Kitts and Nevis have not been delivered, as contractually agreed, under the pro rata population-based sharing terms of the December 17, 2014, Charlestown Accord.
On balance, St. Kitts and Nevis has performed well in outperforming the vast majority of its Western Hemispheric sovereign states. This is not the dominant issue in the current Election debate. By contrast, the single most important issue is the lopsided allocation to St. Kitts of the funds earned from the sale of a passport that is jointly-owned by the People of St. Kitts and Nevis, leaving Nevis and Nevisians without access to their own money for building hotels and providing for the general welfare of its people.
Validating the claim by repeating a chant that is heard on a political platform may be interesting, but oftentimes is far removed from actual performance. We are invariably made better off by making a good faith effort at reconciling differences by appealing to the data. It is the reason why our Courts of Law, although willing to hear testimony from witnesses, prefer to document these claims by reviewing the evidence.
The documented evidence revealed by the year-end Budget Estimates of both the Federal and NIA governments represent the St. Kitts and Nevis performance scorecard. These documents are of paramount importance in validating claims. The published data by the World Bank et al. for 196 countries represent data that is universally agreed to that meet the highest standards for publication by a host of international organizations.
The data compiled from the annual budget documents and subjected to an Independent Auditor’s Report are most helpful in validating widely divergent claims. Over the interval 2007 to 2015, the St. Kitts and Nevis Sugar Industry Diversification Fund (SIDF) made significant contributions to the Citizenship Investment Program (CIP). Over this 9-year interval, income derived from the sale of the St. Kitts and Nevis passport was a staggering EC $2,854,955,577.
Regrettably, in its December 31, 2016 report, the auditor broke the startling news on the management of the SIDF Fund. On Page One of its Adverse Opinion, the report states that
“….The Foundation’s operations are under review by its Board of Councillors and it is probable that operations will cease and the Foundation will be wound up during the next twelve months. This situation indicates that a material uncertainty exists, which may cast significant doubt on the Foundation’s ability to continue as a going concern….”
In short order, a Hurricane Relief Fund (HRF) was established that provided assistance to those affected by Hurricane Irma and Maria, while retaining the flow of funds for well-endowed investors in the CIP program. This was followed in April of 2018 by the establishment of a Sustainable Growth Fund (SGF), with its own link to the CIP program;,and in quick succession by the introduction of an Alternative Investment Option (AIO).
These combined initiatives played important roles in helping to reverse the sharp declines in the flow of CIP funds to St. Kitts and Nevis in 2015 and 2016. This was followed by the outstanding work of Hon. Lindsay Grant in catapulting our tourism sector to the highest ever performing year in 2019; and the Hon Premier Mark Brantley who used his enhanced international diplomatic skills to propel St. Kitts and Nevis to be ranked among countries with the highest number of visa-free agreements, paving the way for the highest level ever recorded in the CIP ‘s flow of funds to St. Kitts and Nevis.
The two years 2018 and 2019 are to be regarded as bumper crop years in which St. Kitts and Nevis performed at the highest levels ever recorded catapulting our small state to be ranked as Number 3 among sovereign states in per capita income in the Western Hemisphere.
The St. Kitts and Nevis Platinum brand for the well-established CIP Program produced a combined flow of non-taxable revenues amounted to EC$2,854,955,577 for the Labor-led years of 2007 to 2015, and EC$1,396,445,768 for the PLP years of 2016 through 2020, for a grand total for the combined 2007 thru 2020 Labor and People’s Labor Party leadership of EC$4,251,401,345.
While this performance may play well among Labor Leaders in St. Kitts, the embedded discriminatory bias against Nevis and Nevisians under Labor’s “ALL FOR SINKITT – NUTTEN FOR NEEWIS” RULE is deeply troubling. The performance scorecard reveals that a measly EC$184,300,958 was allocated to Nevis over the 13-year interval 2007 to 2020. This amounts to an abusive 95 percent of the CIP revenues being pocketed by St. Kitts;, leaving a mere 5 percent for the development of hotels in Nevis, non-stop flights to the Vance Amory International Airport and much more.
The date December 17, 2014 when the Charlestown Accord was signed marks a significant turning point in the history of St. Kitts and Nevis. Nevisians and Kittitians embraced the Accord which called for a pro rata share of the flow of funds and a stronger union of St. Kitts and Nevis. Our Former Premier signed the Accord. So too did our incumbent Prime Minister as well as our Deputy Prime Minister. For many of us, it was a moment of rejoicing. There were no objections heard on any front to the Plan which would have granted Nevis access to its own funds.
Our Hon. Prime Minister accepted the unprecedented opportunity for being the only known Prime Minister in the CARICOM region who brought to the table only one elected Cabinet member (“himself”). He fully joined with his peers in establishing the universally accepted practice of a pro rata population-based allocation of the flow of CIP revenues, with 75 percent for St. Kitts and 25 percent for Nevis. He would have been a back bencher in the UNITY Government had he insisted in deploying the long established Labor “ALL FOR ST.KITTS – NOTHING FOR NEVIS” rule.
We endorsed the Plan. It is the very first Plan that has ever confronted-head on nearly 100 years of abuse of Nevis at the hands of leaders in St. Kitts. The performance scorecard reveals that under the terms established by our Hon. Prime Minister, the Hon Deputy Prime Minister and the Former Prime Minister of Nevis for the 14-year interval 2007 to 2020:
- St. Kitts would be allocated a share of 75 percent of CIP non-tax revenues in the amount of EC$3,326,766,727 (75% of EC$4,435,702,303); and
- Nevis would be due a share of 25 percent in the amount of EC$1,108,925,576 (25% of EC$4,435,702,303 less Actual Receipts of EC$184,300,958)
Nevis cannot build hotels and attract non-stop flights, unless it has un-interrupted access to its ownership shares of the most highly-valued asset in its portfolio. The long overdue arrears in the amount of EC$924,624,618 is both necessary and sufficient for meeting the clearly defined commitments that our Honorable Prime Minister has endorsed for Nevis under the terms set forth in the Charlestown Accord.