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Posted: Monday 11 March, 2024 at 9:40 AM

PM Drew reminds that the government is correcting CBI challenges through legislation

By: Staff Reporter,

    BASSETERRE, St. Kitts -- WITH questions mounting over transparency and accountability of the Citizenship By Investment (CBI) Programme, and with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) making several recommendations surrounding the local programme, Prime Minister Dr. Terrance Drew has reminded that the government is making improvements that will bring about benefits.


    That comes against the backdrop of a number of critical pieces of information from the programme remaining under guard by the current administration, and a similar position was also held under the previous administration.


    Despite several requests from the media surrounding the level of transparency in the programme, PM Drew has reassured that there is a high level of transparency, with significant improvements underway.


    In its Article IV Country Report for St. Kitts and Nevis, the IMF underscored the importance of the programme on the local economy and has put forward recommendations to ensure that it remains transparent.


    During his recent Round Table, Dr. Drew acknowledged that “there has been improvement, significant improvement, in terms of the legislation and in terms of setting up [the] board of governors and so forth.”


    Dr. Drew, who is also the Finance Minister, noted that the government is “correcting any matter that has to do with the governance for more transparency and openness of the program”.


    Unlike in other member territories of the OECS where information pertaining to the revenue garners, sources of applications, number of passports issued, and the number of passport deactivated are regularly issued to the public, those pieces of information are not forthcoming in Basseterre, allowing for governments to be heavily criticized by the citizenry.


    “As I said before, we had to go in and do a complete audit of the program, see what's going on, and that is still ongoing. So what the IMF is mentioning is that we have done work, as I promised we would do, to the point where I think St. Kitts and Nevis has some of the toughest legislation when it comes around to the CBI program,” reminded Dr. Drew.


    When it comes to information sharing, the prime minister noted the fact that it is an area they are currently working on to ensure that the public gets a better understanding of the details provided.


    “The last part is, as we set it up, how are we now going to relate the information to the public? And that is the last part that we're actually working on. Why is it important? If you look at our budget and the audit report, the numbers from the CBI program are actually in there. The financials of the CBI program are already being reported,” Dr. Drew said.


    He continued: “Because you have the budget and you have the audit report, they have to come in the budget. So if you look in the budget, 2023-2024, you will see that information, the financials. The other part, they're talking about the nationalities and so forth that we are actually putting in place.”


    The CBI program has long been the main driving force behind the Federation’s economic development, accounting for approximately 40-60 percent of the country’s annual revenue.


    Local data provided by both the government and the Audit Office only showed actual revenue collected for the years 2021, 2022, and 2023. It failed to answer the burning question being sought after by the media: how many passports were issued in recent years?


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