(ZIZ)– The Citizenship by Investment Programme, behaviour in and out of parliament, and unfair electricity rates were among the reasons listed when the opposition in the St. Kitts National Youth Parliament raised a call for a motion of no confidence during the recent sitting of a mock parliament.
Andre Knight, Leader of the Opposition said he and his colleagues are concerned with the management of the Citizenship by Investment Programme and called for a thorough screening process.
He noted the US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FINcen) published an advisory warning financial institutions that individuals are abusing the Citizenship by Investment Programme to evade international sanctions or engage in other financial crime.
“Mr. Speaker, we cannot hand out our passport as if they were any other item being sold by a street vendor. As a nation so heavily geared towards tourism, how we are viewed on the international stage is of paramount importance. This mismanagement and lax controls casts a negative light on our nation,” Knight explained.
Zoe Quinlan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, refuted the opposition’s claims of mismanagement and noted that there is a process that must be followed to be a part of the programme.
“But realistically speaking however, no-one can simply buy a passport and we don’t simply hand out passports like ‘items on the street’. Rather an investment must be made. All passports are issued on the same basis…none more difficult or easier than the other.”
She said the programme is being reviewed in order to improve performance and condemned the opposition for using the FINcen report to attack the government.
“We acknowledge the shortcomings within the programme and beginning to effect the necessary changes to strengthen. It is unfortunate however, that this reliable advisory has been misinterpreted by the opposition who take it and its contents as a propaganda joyride in an attempt to slander the reputable of both the Citizenship by Investment Programme and the Honourable Prime Minister.”
Quinlan pointed to the numerous investments that the CBI has brought to the island and the spinoff effects that have benefitted the country through the Citizenship by Investment Programme.