PM Douglas seeks foreign investment in Canada

St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas (right) and St. Kitts and Nevis Consul General, Mr. Todd Axelrod walks though an upland area mansion. Photo by Darren Stone Times Colonist.

ST. KITTS, July 1, 2010 (CUOPM) – St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas is seeking foreign investment and promoting tourism in Canada.

According to the Times Columnist, the St. Kitts and Nevis leader has been highlighting the continued transformation of the economy and the role that Canada is playing in the economic development of the twin island federation.

The island brims with lush scenery and has a rich 500-year history, but has faced challenges from hurricanes to poor harvests.

“We are in the process of transforming our national economy, which for almost four centuries was based on sugar cane,” Douglas said.

“We’re moving into a service economy led by tourism, information technology, banking and light manufacturing.”

One of Douglas’s goals is energy self-sufficiency.

“With the help of the Bank of Nova Scotia we are developing geothermal power to totally replace fossil fuels,” he said. “St. Kitts and Nevis will be the first totally green country in the world.” His health agenda is also ambitious.

He is tackling HIV/AIDS with free medical care, and he is spearheading a UN effort to combat diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.

Douglas is aware that many North Americans associate the Caribbean with tourism.

Hotels such as the Marriott and Four Seasons are well-established on St. Kitts and Nevis, with the Mandarin chain looking to build, and there are many smaller inns created from old sugar plantations that Douglas describes as charming.

Further, his country “honours privacy,” which is why many celebrities holiday there.

“People can walk around unmolested by the paparazzi,” he said.

In his quest for high-end tourism and investment, Douglas travelled to Geneva and Zurich last week. After leaving Victoria, he will travel to Vancouver before returning to St. Kitts and Nevis.

“In the past, it was an enormous financial burden to establish an embassy in a foreign country. We now utilize reliable citizens to pursue business,” said the Prime Minister, who appointed Victoria businessman Todd Axelrod as Consul General in 2008.

There are many connections between Canada and St. Kitts and Nevis, including the fact that there are three Canadian banks on the islands, including the Royal Bank, which has been there a century.

“My country has no income tax, no capital gains, no estate tax, corporate tax is relatively low and we offer a multi-faceted incentive package for new companies — tax holidays, omissions of duties, free concessions — but we have intensive due diligence,” Douglas said.

“Our financial sector is highly regulated, modeled on the Canadian system.”

Douglas was the guest of honour at a dinner Sunday hosted by Axelrod. Among the attendees were artist Art Vickers, Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA Ida Chong, Small Business Victoria CEO Ken Stratford and retired KPMG partner Derrold Norgaard.

Norgaard said the investment climate is favourable, citing “recent changes to tax legislation in Canada [and] a recent agreement that makes it more preferable for Canadians to do business there.” He was impressed with Douglas.

“He is a very dignified, well-spoken individual who is putting a lot of effort into moving his country to the next level.”

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