By Caribbean News Now contributor
BASSETERRE, St Kitts – St Kitts and Nevis hosting of the Caribbean Investment Summit coincides with the 35th anniversary of its pioneering Citizenship by Investment Programme (CBI); is also where several major CBI projects dot the landscape either abandoned or incomplete.
It seems more evident than not, that the Embassy Suites international hotel brand appearing on a resort on the coastline remains unfinished. The Radisson, the Six Senses and Ritz-Carlton brands have also eluded the Team Unity government of prime minister Dr Timothy Harris, and thus, gives reason to examine economic citizenship investments.
The 4th annual summit will open Wednesday, June 19th, 2019, includes a two-day programme held under the theme 35 years of CBI: The Caribbean Advantage, is expected to draw some 400 attendees comprising government officials, heads of Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Units, developers, as well as international marketing agents and service providers from around the world, including China, India, the Middle East, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis Dr Timothy Harris is expected to highlight a forward-looking presentation titled: A focus on regional leadership and vision: 35 years of Caribbean CIP, looking back, the sustainable path forward.
Last month, Dr Harris announced that St Kitts CBI program has an optimistic outlook in terms of performance. “Last year was the best” adding, “The real estate applications received is at record high levels. St Kitts and Nevis is exploring new innovative ideas transformation strengthening the CBI scheme. The government will continue enhancing the due diligence checks and will continue to cooperate with governments in US, Europe and Canada and have an excellent relationship with this particular program. “The program is doing very well”, Dr Harris said.
Looking back at last year’s summit, Harris said, “A lot has changed since 1984 when our citizenship by investment programme (CIP) began as an ambitious start-up venture.” He noted, “the little engine that could” holds the distinction of creating the niche market of economic citizenship and carving out a pathway for the growth and development of small, resource-constrained countries.
Speaking at the St Kitts Marriott Resort, Harris said last year, “As to be expected, competition has surged along with interest in citizenship by investment programmes – so much so that, within the past several years, Antigua and Barbuda (2013), Grenada (2013; re-launched in 2016) and Saint Lucia (2015) entered the CIP market, and Dominica reshaped its CIP in 2014 after having launched it two decades earlier in 1993. Cyprus (2011; restructured in 2013) and Malta (2014) also introduced their own CIPs several years ago. As I speak, other countries are considering getting into the lucrative CIP market.”
Member of Parliament Marcaella Liburd has accused Harris of gross incompetence, noting in 2017, that after over two years in office, the Team Unity government has not attracted one foreign direct investment to St Kitts and Nevis.
“Dr Harris has no alternative for stimulating the economy. He has no vision. He has no foresight and all the construction projects initiated by the past labour government are fast coming to an end,” Liburd said.
A local businessman, A U Browne in a Facebook post said, “Since the 2015 election, not one major foreign investor has started any project that would benefit the people and the federation in general. Investors are running away from St Kitts because of greed by personalities in the TUG that are begging for financial contributions, or gifts before any agreement can be reached, prospective investors have said.”
“The economy is dying, business is suffering, people are finding it difficult to pay bills because work and money are scarce. The TUG continues to demonstrate it only cares about close allies, friends, its members and family,” he said.
“Harris’ poor leadership is not good for economic growth and more people have come to recognize that he’s better at talking than performing for the betterment of all the people. To continue with him in a second term as PM will spell economic doom for our beloved country, as no direct foreign investor will work with the TUG, St Kitts and Nevis deserve better.”
Others share the view that a second term of Team Unity with Dr Harris as prime minister “is not good for economic growth” and “will spell economic doom [for our beloved country].”