BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, June 26 2018 – THE government’s inaugural Diaspora Conference kicked off today in St. Kitts, and Deputy Prime Minister, Shawn Richards told the more than 300 participants that they play an integral role in the country’s development.
In remarks to officially open the three-day event, Richards explained to the diasporic community that his government recognizes that they have long partnered with them by spending in critical areas, including on education and health care.
With that in mind, the government recognized the support of the community through their remittances which remained stable during the financial downturn of 2007.
“My Team Unity Government also recognizes that our nationals who reside abroad are deeply tied to the land and to the people of St. Kitts and Nevis. Moreover, many of you yearn to be involved more meaningfully in the development of the Federation,” Richards noted.
According to Richards, the government intends for the Conference and Expo to heighten awareness of investment opportunities, and for the creation of a database of diasporic expertise and an approved Diaspora Policy that will provide legislative and regulatory framework to facilitate diaspora investments.
To this end, the government is considering opportunities to have more investment for nationals living abroad to further enhance the local economy, that will be done through a number of incentives programmes.
“The Government will also consider whether we should raise financing from our overseas nationals by issuing diaspora bonds – which both India and Israel have had much success with and which development economists such as Dilip Ratha of the World Bank are proponents of – to fund infrastructure projects and social investments.
“The Government is also actively considering offering tax incentives and duty-free concessions for Kittitians and Nevisians coming back home to engage in agriculture, real estate development and other key activities.”
The Deputy Prime Minister said his government is ready to throw its vigorous support behind diaspora entrepreneurs, while encouraging people to identify market opportunities and create and invest in new projects that will spur further economic and job growth.
“Indeed, my Government is serious about economic growth and jobs. The first three years of my Team Unity Administration have set impressive records, witnessing the highest annual Wage Bill, the most Business Licenses issued in a year, and the largest numbers of Jobs, Workers and Social Security Contributors.
On the sidelines of the conference, a number of local business and agencies are showcasing their operations and products.