(ZIZ News) The performance of the Federation’s economy in the past year was the topic of discussion on Saturday when leading businessmen and women in St. Kitts and Nevis gathered at the Marriot Resort for the St. Kitts and Nevis Chamber of Industry and Commerce 32nd Annual Private Sector Banquet.
The banquet was held under the theme, “Forging A New Beginning – Through Stronger Public-Private Sector Partnership”.
In delivering the Chamber’s economic report, President, Damion Hobson commended the Team Unity-led government on the work it has done since taking office.
He also used the opportunity to again voice the Chamber’s concerns on the Citizenship By Investment Program.
“The calls for greater scrutiny of applications and the cries for more productive use of the then hundreds of millions of dollars once in the funds were not met with the required timely and corrective measures. We are all too well aware of the consequences of such inaction. What we now wish to say to this new administration is identical to what we have argued in the past, ‘strong measures of accountability transparency and fiscal prudence’,” he said.
Hobson said the Chamber stands ready to assist the government in addressing the issues surrounding the program.
“May we now offer the experience of the collective expertise and good will of the Chamber as government pushes ahead to develop and implement new methods of screening, processing and qualifications,” he stated.
“We, the Chamber, are requesting a seat at the table when the design of the new CBI Program will be fashioned. The Chamber maintains the position that revenues from the CBI generally but especially the SIDF is best invested in long term infrastructural development rather than the past experiences in short term activities that have done little to affect change,” he added.
Prime Minister, the Hon. Dr. Timothy Harris said after taking office, his administration undertook the hard work of reshaping and restoring confidence in the program.
“Importantly, because we believe the lack of transparency was a problem as the president outlined, we got the international firm IPSA; IPSA International to come in and to help us to pursue the implementation of the programs,” he said.
“Twenty recommendations IPSA put to the last government in 2014, not one of them was implemented properly by the last government; not one. We had to find the IPSA report; we had to reengage them; we had to come up with money not budgeted to have them come back and to help us in re-fashioning the program and to give it credibility,” he added.
The Prime Minister said the reform process of the Citizenship By Investment Program has started but stated that the long term goal is to put the country on a path where they won’t have to depend on the program as much as they do now.