Basseterre, St. Kitts (SKNIS) — The government has taken firm steps to address concerns about the Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Programme, which upon assuming office faced challenges described by Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, as a “real and present threat to the prosperity agenda for our nation.”
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) noted value of the CBI, which contributes 30 percent of annual revenue to the twin Island Federation.
“In charting a way forward to comprehensively address the challenges, since assuming office as Prime Minister, I have spent the first five months building closer links with governments of the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, the European Union, as well as the International Monetary Fund (IMF),” he said, while continuing to build relations with international partners in order to bolster the longevity and integrity of the CBI programme.
A number of activities have been put in place to better assist persons involved with the CBI. These include the implementation of the twenty (20) recommendations adopted by Cabinet as submitted by IPSA; the international company which has been supporting the government in the reform process over the last several months. In addition, training is ongoing for the Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU) staff. The course is sponsored by the United States government.
Further, the CBI programme has recently seen the implementation of a Document Management System, which is designed to improve on the processing of applications and overall efficiency.
“The benefits to be derived from this system include: increase in staff productivity and accountability, reduced processing time for clients’ applications and strengthening of the CIU’s capacity to be more responsive to their clients,” Prime Minister Harris emphasized and stressed that this is an integrated system which will enable service providers to submit applications electronically to the CIU office.
The Minister of Finance said that the “confidentiality of applicants’ information is always a priority and as such, the government have ensured that enhanced security is embedded at all levels in the software and network.”
A consultative meeting is being planned to invite dialogue between the government, service providers and developers and other key stakeholders in the programme, before the end of July 2015.
Dr. Harris echoed that, “in facing the reality of circumstances in the federation, a lot of work needs to get done and we cannot afford to maintain the status quo in many aspects of operations. We have to find ways to become more proactive and productive, even given the limited access to resources,” he stressed.
The Prime Minister encouraged all to stay engaged and said his government is committed to building a long-lasting partnership with the private sector and civil society.