By Clive Bacchus
BASSETERRE, St Kitts (WINN) -- The St Kitts and Nevis Cabinet is set to approve a raft of new measures aimed at bolstering the billion-dollar citizen by investment programme, which has come under fire from a May advisory issued by the US Treasury’s Financial Crime Enforcement Network (FINCEN) that accuses it of having lax controls and attracting illicit actors.
“We have heard from the Americans, we have heard from the Canadians, we have heard from the British, we have heard from other European powers, we have heard from the agents... from the service providers the bankers, the management, the staff at the Citizenship by Investment Unit,” Prime Minister Dr Denzil Douglas told WINN on Sunday, adding that the Cabinet will soon make a final decision on the recommendations before it.
"We believe it’s time to bring to the Cabinet for full endorsement matters pertaining to regulations, matters pertaining to security, the management of information and the information system... matters pertaining to how you select persons to be service providers... this is the kind of thing we will address in our cabinet submission and I will later speak to it this week,” Douglas said.
The PM’s statement follows ongoing heated debate about the programme which has enjoyed widespread support and has helped the country weather the economic storm raging in the region.
Detractors take aim at the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation (SIDF), which invites applications for citizenship at US$250,000 per single applicant.
The political opposition wants the money generated by successful applicants to the SIDF placed in the Consolidated Fund and under the purview of Parliament and the auditor general. They have also accused the administration of using the SIDF as a slush fund to finance its political strategies.
The SIDF was established in 2006 to help the country transition from a loss-making, sugar- based economy. In its published accounts for 2011, the SIDF says it has plugged almost $163 million into the economy for government support, people empowerment and investments.
Manager of the SIDF Terrance Crossman has argued that the organisation has always embraced accountability and has published its accounts for all to see.
“We have had our accounts audited... we have a draft of our 2012 financials ready... and I think it’s going to be a good story as it has been since our inception,” Crossman told WINN at a recent event that launched three new projects -- a housing enhancement initiative, a graduate student assistance programme and a home mortgage project -- in association with the St Kitts Nevis Anguilla National Bank.
Republished with permission of West Indies News Network