Basseterre, St. Kitts (SKNIS) — An improved quality of economic citizens who will contribute more to their adopted homeland is the goal, as the government of St. Kitts and Nevis pushes ahead with reforms to strengthen the 30-year-old Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Programme.
An important step was taken on Wednesday (July 29) with the passage of the St. Christopher and Nevis Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2015 in the National Assembly. The Amendment focused on the security and due diligence of the process. Of significance, was the exclusion of persons seeking citizenship who have been engaged in negative activities such as terrorism and money laundering or where there are reasonable grounds in the interest of defence, public safety or public order.
The move by the parliament was described by Senior Minister Honourable Vance Amory as a step toward: “reversing a bad situation” where the United States, United Kingdom and Canada had expressed concerns with the programme.
“That situation came as a result of a poor understanding of what the programme means to us, how it functions, and how it should be operated,” he stressed, referring to practices by former administrators. “We just need to look at these and get away from the glib statements, and not facing the reality of what existed and [what] now has to be done.”
The Senior Minister, who is also the Premier of Nevis, said he believes in the programme noting that the people of the two sister-islands have benefited significantly. It is that conviction which made him an ideal representative to participate in various CBI-related forums in Dubai, Singapore and London earlier this year. While there, he promoted the application process and the benefits of being an economic citizen.
“We have to get those people who are going to apply and hold our citizenship [in high esteem],” he said. “We have to ensure that they have an interest in physically being part of the country.”
Staffing roles in the Citizenship Investment Unit (CIU) and enhancing efficiencies in the system were also identified as important reforms.
More than 120 CBI stakeholders shared their ideas on the process at a National Consultation on the Citizenship by Investment Programme on Thursday (July 30). The event marked the first time the government of St. Kitts and Nevis has hosted such a forum to engage relevant national persons and agencies in “The Way Forward through Collaboration” as captured by the theme. In June, St. Kitts and Nevis was also the venue for the first ever regional CBI conference organized by risk management firm IPSA International.