PM Drew: Former administration left Development Bank “in a mess”; “We cannot allow it to fail!”

Prime Minister Dr. Terrance Drew revealed over the weekend that the former administration left the Development Bank of St. Kitts Nevis in incredible debt to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. This, he said, could have jeopardised the pensions of hundreds of people if the St. Kitts Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) had not come to office in 2022.

According to Dr. Drew, who holds ministerial responsibility for finance, upon coming to office, he soon discovered that the bank was in staggering debt to the tune of $333 million.

Addressing the 92nd National Conference of the St. Kitts Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP), Drew, the organisation’s leader, said “mismanagement” and “corruption” were at the root of the bank’s woes. The finance minister then dropped another bombshell when he disclosed that the bank had not been audited from 2018 until his administration came to office.

“We got in in 2022, and what we inherited was a mess. When we took over, we met the banks in trouble. Today, the Development Bank owes $333 million because of bad management and corruption. No audit since 2018. That is why we are saying that is too much money to turn a blind eye and whoever is responsible must be held responsible…for that funds,” said Dr. Drew. 

He noted that the Development Bank was also in significant debt to the Social Security Board. If left unchecked, he said this could put countless people in a vulnerable position upon their retirement. This, Drew said, could not be allowed to happen and his administration has taken action to right this wrong.

“Today, the Development Bank owes Social Security $100 million…putting your future pension at risk. You must get your pension! That is why we cannot allow the Development Bank to fail, and the government is pumping millions of dollars into Development Bank to save it so that it can save your pension at Social Security,” siad Dr. Drew.

Prime Minister Drew has been very critical of the former administration’s abuse of public funds. 

After coming to office, Prime Minister Drew swiftly acted to reform the Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programme which he accused the failed Dr. Timothy Harris-led government of misusing to prop up his administration.

An International Monetary Fund (IMF) report published this year on 1st March commended the Drew administration’s “fiscal prudence” and praised its efforts to reform the CBI. The IMF report further noted that the government had“ improved the governance of the programme by advancing CBI legislation and creating the CBI Board of Governors to improve oversight.”

This is in stark contrast to the Harris administration which had been accused of “over reliance” on the CBI. 

His administration was also accused of putting the programme and country at risk after it dropped the financial qualification for the CBI to a mere US$150,000 in 2020 for a family of four. 

Harris, then Minister of Finance, was heavily criticised for this decision which many blamed for the European Union’s subsequent threat to revoke St. Kitts and Nevis’ visa free access to Schengen group nations after concerns over the security of the programme arose.  

Joined by fellow prime ministers in the region whose countries also have CBI programmes, Dr. Drew acted swiftly in 2023 to engage with EU representatives on this issue. 

Following the commitments given by Dr. Drew that the CBI would be restructured and due diligence protocols improved, the EU softened its stance which protected the integrity of the country’s passport and preserved nationals’ visa free access to Europe.


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