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Posted: Wednesday 5 June, 2024 at 12:36 PM

OECS Opposition Leaders call for unified approach to CBI Programmes

By: Staff Reporter,

    BASSETERRE, St. Kitts -- IN light of recent scrutiny over Citizenship By Investment (CBI) Programmes in St. Kitts-Nevis and St. Lucia, following a RICO lawsuit in the United States, Opposition Leaders within the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) have called for a “common standard” across the subregion.


    “We, the undersigned Leaders of the Opposition of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) would like to reiterate our support for the Citizen Investment Programmes (CIP) across the region. We acknowledge the meaningful contribution that the Citizenship by Investment Programmes (CIP) have made and continue to make to the economic strength and resilience of our respective economies,” the statement read.


    Opposition Leaders from Antigua-Barbuda, Grenada, St. Lucia,  and St. Kitts-Nevis all signed the letter, noting the financial challenges faced by the region and the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in securing sufficient funding for economic resilience.


    For St. Kitts and Nevis, the CBI programme has been a critical pillar of the economy, with data showing it accounts for 45 to 60 percent of the government’s revenue in recent years. The leaders emphasized the importance of these programmes, highlighting their role in providing “critical resources for budgetary support, capital programmes, investment, and infrastructure improvement.”


    “We recognize that our CIP programmes also benefit from the mutual trust established between our region and key international partners, including CARICOM, the European Union, Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States, and other countries that grant us visa-free access. We acknowledge the importance of this trust and the shared responsibility it entails. We understand that maintaining the integrity of our borders is as crucial as safeguarding theirs.” the media statement continued.


    In recent months, these programmes have come under intense scrutiny from the European Union and the United States, threatening their viability. The EU has urged the territories offering the "Golden Passport" to discontinue them or face the risk of visa impositions.


    Dominica has already experienced repercussions, with the United Kingdom imposing visa requirements for its passport holders despite enhanced due diligence measures. A primary concern for countries offering visa-free access is the entry of individuals into the programmes who would typically require visas, particularly Chinese nationals.


    The programmes were further spotlighted after MSR Media filed a RICO lawsuit in the United States against several individuals in the Federation, raising concerns about the potential economic impact.


    During a recent roundtable, Prime Minister Dr. Terrance Drew addressed the possible economic fallout from the lawsuit, noting that the government had begun implementing changes to the programmes. These changes, he conceded, have already affected the revenue base.


    ““In light of recent developments surrounding our CIP programmes and the increased international scrutiny thereof, we express our strong support for the collective call for all participating countries to sign and enforce the Memorandum of Agreement and to adhere to one common standard, overseen by an independent regulatory authority, to ensure the continued success and credibility of our programmes,” the Opposition Leaders reassured.


    In the Federation, Dr. Drew emphasized that his administration has demonstrated proactive measures since taking office in August, which has fostered significant confidence among international partners. The government continues to make necessary adjustments to the programme as required by international stakeholders to maintain this confidence.


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