PM Drew slams Harris gov’t for reckless approval of economic citizenships as his administration makes strides in strengthening the CBI

Between 2016 and 2022, the Dr. Timothy Harris-led government approved a staggering 32,606 citizenships under the Citizenship by Investment programme. 

While the final number of citizenships approved under the prison project is unclear, 5500 shares were allocated for the project accounting for 25,000 citizenships, most of which were reportedly signed off on.

Put into perspective, St. Kitts and Nevis’ entire population based on the 2022 census is 51,320.

This information was disclosed by Prime Minister Dr. Terrance Drew as he condemned the Harris administration for its imprudent approval of such a large number of citizenships with no regard for the instability this could create for St. Kitts and Nevis. 

The haste of former Prime Minister Harris and his administration to sell the country’s patrimony “like black pudding on a Saturday afternoon” as they have oft been accused of doing of late, opened the door to the RICO lawsuit that has been filed in a US Federal court, and the for judicial review in the High Court here by investor Philippe Martinez and his MSR group of companies.

Both Harris’ People’s Labour Party and members of the People’s Action Party which formed the previous government have sought to disassociate themselves from the allegations levelled in the lawsuit. 

In fact, both political organisations have attempted to deflect the public’s attention away from their role in the mismanagement of the CBI by erroneously insinuating in various fora that the Drew administration, which came to power in 2022, played a role in the circumstances which led to the lawsuit being filed by Martinez and MSR.

“The persons who are responsible for all of this are acting as though they know nothing of it and they are actually, really deceiving the people as well,” said Prime Minister Drew last Friday. 

“This is what [Unity] brought the country to: fragile, risky,” continued the prime minister as he disclosed that in the last five years of the Harris administration 50 percent of all government revenue came from the CBI while in the last two that number increased to 57 percent. 

“This is the truest economic example of putting all eggs…in one basket,” said Dr. Drew. “This is why we have to rush to implement the Sustainable Island State Agenda. It is critical; the country’s survival depends on it.”  

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) concurred with this when in its own objective analysis of St. Kitts and Nevis’ economy in a March 2022 it said while the Drew administration had “improved the governance of the programme by advancing CBI legislation and creating the CBI Board of Governors to improve oversight”, the Harris administration had caused the country to become over reliant on “…the volatile and unsustainable CBI revenue” which became “a major source of vulnerability” for the country.

As the threat the former government exposed the CBI to becomes more clear to the public, Prime Minister Drew is continuing through legislative and diplomatic means to restore confidence in the St. Kitts and Nevis CBI.

St. Kitts and Nevis’ CBI is the first to have been established in the world in 1984. The present government has made it its goal to return the country to its rightful place as the leader in the industry. This was most recently evidenced with the passage of the Citizenship by Investment Unit Bill, 2024 by the National Assembly last week. 

Formerly, the Citizenship by Investment Unit operated as a department within the Ministry of National Security, Immigration and Citizenship with financial oversight by the Prime Minister’s Office. With the passage of the Citizenship by Investment Unit Bill,  the CIU will now begin its transition into a statutory corporation.

Transitioning the CIU’s status to that of a statutory corporation also puts St. Kitts and Nevis in compliance with the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) outlined in a 2023  joint report on investment migration. 

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