BASSETERRE, St. Kitts (KYSS) – St Kitts and Nevis’ decision to establish a third Citizenship by Investment (CBI) option, the Hurricane Relief Fund (HRF), has raised both the ire and the eyebrows of persons locally, across the Caribbean region and around the world.
Coming less than two weeks after Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated neighbouring Caribbean islands, the announcement of the HRF was decried for the poor timing of its announcement.
According to the press releases issued by the Citizenship Investment Unit (CIU), the fund is a short-term option geared at generating revenue to be used in the event St. Kitts and Nevis is hit by a major disaster.
Another of its goals, according to the CIU, is to generate sufficient funds to aid neighbouring islands in their post-hurricane recovery efforts.
The announcement of the HRF has since been faced with accusations of heartlessness and shame on the part of the Dr. Timothy Harris-led Team Unity government as the fund is seen as an unapologetic attempt to maximise financial gains via the CBI at a time when other islands heavily dependent on CBI revenues are crippled.
Opposition Leader, Right Honourable Dr. Denzil Douglas’ has been among the most vocal of those condemning the establishment of the HRF by Prime Minister Harri’s administration..
Concerns have also been raised about the viability of the first two CBI options – the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation and real estate investment options – as the HRF contribution greatly undercuts by hundreds of thousands of dollars the fees required to apply for economic citizenship.
Prime Minister Harris at his monthly press conference on October 3rd attempted to put to bed widespread fear that the CBI was underselling itself.
According to Dr. Harris, the government is relying on the “every market has its customers” principle.
Despite the Prime Minister’s attempts to allay fears over the temporary investment option, neither he nor any member of the Team Unity administration has to date addressed the previous administration’s plans to establish a Sovereign Fund.
On many occasions, St. Kitts Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) Leader Dr. Douglas, has said that the Sovereign Fund was intended to serve as an emergency source of revenue for the federation in the event of disaster, whether economic or natural.
The fund would have been comprised of funds acquired from all CBI application fees as well as a portion of the SIDF contributions.
SKNLP Senator, Honourable Nigel Carty, recently spoke with SKN NEWS NOW about the Team Unity administration’s failure or refusal to establish the Sovereign Wealth Fund.
He also believes that the haste to establish the short-term HRF CBI option is a clear indication that Prime Minister Harris does not have in place long-term plans for the federation.