Local news, News, Politics

PM Harris’ statement causes “earthquake” in St. Kitts and Nevis CIP industry

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Published 23 May 2017

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, May 23rd 2017 – The recent bombshell announcement by Prime Minister Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris to phase out the Citizenship by Investment Programme has caused an earthquake in the programme worldwide.

The acid response from developers and other stakeholders to Dr. Harris’ statement that his Team Unity Government was going to phase out the programme has been one of “disbelief” with several of them privately expressing the view that the actions of Dr. Harris prior to taking office and since his appointment as Prime Minister, have had “devastating consequences for our investment, our businesses, our livelihood and the economic future of St. Kitts and Nevis.”

In a national broadcast on May 9th Prime Minister Harris referred to the St. Kitts and Nevis Citizenship by Investment Programme as “the platinum standard of the global industry.”

At a news conference on May 10th, less than 24 hours after, he stunned stakeholders including the Citizenship by Investment Unit, when he told journalists “the time will come in the not too distant future where we can as a people reach that level of development that we can easily exit from this programme.”

The St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party chairperson, Hon. Marcella Liburd slammed the bombshell announcement and accused Prime Minister Harris of sending shockwaves in the Citizenship by Investment Programme without consulting with stakeholders and his cabinet colleagues. She said his Trump-like style statement would drive away potential investors and cripple existing projects as well as those under construction.

In a frantic reaction at damage control and looking for a way out of the debacle he created, Prime Minister Harris falsely accused SKNVIBES of misrepresenting what he (Dr. Harris) had said.

Although Dr. Harris demanded and extracted an apology from the SKNVIBES management, the Prime Minister has not publicly levelled a similar accusation against several other media houses including WINNFM which headlined its report: “CBI To Be Phased Out Eventually.” SKNVIBES report was headlined: “Alternatives to CBI Programme may be imperative.”

It must be noted that Dr. Harris just after becoming prime minister, closed down the Citizenship by Investment Unit in St. Kitts. The closure was done without consultation with stakeholders. That prompted Silver Reef investor Sebastian Mottram to tell WINNFM that the once the leading programme in the world, is now “at the tail end of the market” as competitors Dominica, St. Lucia, Grenada and Antigua and Barbuda “steal the march and creeping into the market.”

Dr. Harris also closed the Dubai office for several months thus creating further havoc for hundreds of economic citizens, most of them Iranians, who had fled from Iran and were living in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

With the Dubai office closed the Passport Office in St. Kitts sent the new passports directly to Iran. Some were also sent to the St. Kitts and Nevis Embassy in Taiwan, who also sent the new passports to Tehran. The Dubai and Abu Dhabi-based Iranian never received the passports and opted to take economic citizenship in Dominica.

Accusing Prime Minister Harris of gross incompetence, Ms. Liburd said 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,” said Ms. Liburd.

CBI projects constructed under the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party administration of former prime minister the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas, include Christophe Harbour, Christophe Harbour Marina, Koi Sales Office, Silver Reef Resort and Residences, Kittitian Hill and Imperial Bay Golf & Beach Residences. Other projects still under construction are St. Kitts Castle, Koi Residences, Rendezvous Residences, Golden Rock Commercial Park, Park Hyatt St. Kitts, Montebello, T-Loft (Radisson) and Helden’s (Ramada).

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