Prime Minister Dr.Timothy Harris (right) and Former Prime Minister, Leader of the opposition in the St.Kitts Nevis Parliament and Dominican Diplomat, Dr Denzil Douglas (left)

St. Kitts Nevis Prime Minister the Hon. Dr. Timothy Harris has blasted former Prime Minister and opposition leader Dr. Denzil Douglas over planned hurricane relief efforts claiming Douglas has trouble balancing aid to other islands with the need for repairing local damage at home.

St. Kitts and Nevis announced this new initiative in a press release September 22 under its Citizenship by Investment Programme (CBI).  At a meeting of the Cabinet Friday (Sept.22) it approved a Hurricane Relief Fund which is to be hosted by the Citizenship Investment Unit.”

The press release said, “The investment product will see a proportion of the investment going into the Hurricane Relief Fund to be distributed upon application. Citizenship by Investment applicants will make a non-refundable contribution of USD $150,000.00 which will go into the Hurricane Relief Fund. The fees for agents and services providers will remain as standard”.

Soon after the press release was issued Dr. Douglas took to the airways calling the government new initiative deplorable and claimed that it was a direct effort to undermine the hurricane recovery efforts of Antigua and Barbuda and Dominica,

“I make reference to a statement from The Citizen By Investment Unit(CIU)…In making this announcement, the prime minister has reported that two category 5 hurricanes have made land fall in St. Kitts and Nevis causing phenomenal devastations to homes to businesses and to key infrastructure in our country.”

But, Dr. Douglas apparently didn’t read the statement very well. Prime Minister Harris actually said, “Although Hurricane Irma did not make a direct hit on the Federation, it caused danger to the public sector and private property, with damages of substantial amounts to the order of USD 150 million and the Hurricane Season is not over yet.”

“The government of St. Kitts and Nevis would like to be in a position to provide assistance to its citizens and to make funds available for a speedy recovery to the economy. It is therefore being recommended that a new fund, the Hurricane Relief Fund, be established under the Citizenship by Investment Programme to provide such relief.”

The press release further quotes Prime Minister Harris, “The ethos behind citizenship by investment is about opening up the Federation to investment that will have a direct impact on the quality of life of its citizens.

‘The Hurricane Relief Fund is an attractive option for citizenship applicants in the way it fulfills their own desire to make a positive impact on the environment in which they are seeking to play an active part. It enables the country and its people to recover more quickly and to ensure that the infrastructure and people’s homes are fit and habitable where they have been damaged by this season’s hurricanes.”

Prime Minister Harris spoke to The Observer Sunday about the issue. He detailed his government’s efforts to assist Dominica and Antigua and Barbuda.

“Our cabinet approved a donation of EC$1,000,000 to the government of Dominica, we gave Antigua and Barbuda EC$400.000 after Irma and we did the same thing two-years-ago. We gave Dominica EC$1 million after Erica two-years-ago. We offered to host school children from Dominica until their schools are up and running. We have also offered them the use of our four hospitals,” PM Harris said.

The Prime Minister went on to state the St. Kitts and Nevis Citizen by Investment programme is the oldest such program in the world, starting in 1984. He made the point that the press release of September 23 to which Dr. Douglas referred stated, “It is hoped that the fund will grow sufficiently to be in a position to extend support to neighboring countries in the Caribbean who have been affected this season’s hurricanes.”