By Toni Frederick
BASSETERRE, St Kitts (WINN) -- St Kitts and Nevis needs to review the countries whose nationals are ineligible to apply for economic citizenship. This was one of the recommendations made informally to the prime minister by the opposition leader, according to opposition politician Lindsay Grant, whose law firm is a service provider for the federation’s citizenship by investment programme.
"Right now we disallow nationals of Iran and Afghanistan. We need to take a closer look at some countries to determine if we would allow their nationals to have our passports."
Speaking on a recent edition of WINN FM's Voices Programme, Grant said that the leader of the federal opposition had made several recommendations about shoring up the programme, which he would formalize in writing.
"We need to have an enhancement of the process of due diligence. Thirdly, we need a Select Parliamentary Committee to have oversight over the programme, and fourthly we need for an unequivocal response from the government to reaffirm the federation's commitment to partner with friendly international governments in the fight against criminality. Those issues were raised informally with the prime minister by the leader of the opposition the Honourable Mark Brantley, and very shortly the prime minister will receive a follow-up, documented account of this, so that he can have it before him, because we believe it is critically important for our country."
Grant is convinced that the office that administers the programme is doing a good job, but he is expressing concern about external influences.
"I believe sincerely, that the Citizenship by Investment Office is doing a tremendous amount of work and a tremendously good job, but I believe that there are some persons who interface with the office who lessen the work and the integrity of the office, and one of those persons is the prime minister. The prime minister is a serious interfacer with the office, and he needs to stop that almost immediately, and that is why we're saying we need parliamentary oversight."
The country’s citizenship by investment programme has been under international scrutiny in recent weeks, triggered by an advisory from the US Treasury warning that passports acquired by through the CBI have been used in the commission of financial crimes.
"This is like our oil, or our gold. We don't have natural resources, but we have something that can bring us a tremendous about of money that can boost our country and our country's economy... since it's our nest egg we have to guard it carefully, and we can't afford to abuse it," Grant said.
Republished with permission of West Indies News Network