Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris
By Ken Richards
BASSETERRE, St Kitts (WINN) — The current government in St Kitts and Nevis is hoping it will be able to strengthen other pillars of the economy significantly enough over a period of time to be able to phase out the country’s citizenship by investment programme.
Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris has signaled that intention, even while boasting that the St Kitts and Nevis programme can be considered a platinum-rated one.
“So it is a complex business really, there are attendant risks and we want to resolve them and certainly I hope the time will come in the not too distant future where we can as a people reach that level of development that we can easily exit from this programme, because although it has brought significant benefits, the evolving market place show that there are significant downsides and risks to this programme. We have to go back and strengthen our tourism sector, our agricultural sector, our manufacturing sector, our education sector in terms of our ability to bring more of the kind of institutions that we have here, some call them offshore educational facilities, but if we can improve upon that and achieve a level of self efficiency,” Harris said.
He explained that ensuring that the other sectors can pick up the slack would make it possible to eventually end the programme.
He made the observation while pointing to the government’s efforts to ensure that the CBI programme does not attract tainted funds.
“And we have a number of variables that we would look at, for example in our vetting process we look to see if these are politically exposed persons and politically exposed persons are people with political contacts and political relationships and generally they get a lower score, less favourable score when you are dealing with financial institutions, unfortunately. If they are from high risk countries, a high risk country would be for example a country like Iran, a country like North Korea, a country that has been described as a state sponsor of terrorism, all these are matters that we take into account. We do a broad check of media, and of criminal databases, sanctions list and so on and make a determination whether they are serious or pending legal regulatory or political matters that would require consideration,” Harris noted.
Harris’s comments follow a statement by China suggesting that economic citizen, Chinese national Ren Biao, had become a citizen of the federation by using illicitly obtained funds.
Ren is alleged to have swindled hundreds of millions of dollars in China.
Republished with permission of West Indies News Network