By Linda Straker
Steve Horsford from the Citizenship by Investment programme office in Grenada, was among persons from the region who gathered in St Kitts from Monday for a two-day conference, where they discussed the formation of a regional Citizenship-by-Investment Authority.
During the meeting which was held at the Ocean Terrance Inn Conference room, participants heard presentations from various sectors of the industry and also participated in seminars designed to strengthen the processes to ensure the continued viability of the regional programmes.
During the opening session, St Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister, Dr the Hon. Timothy Harris, said that the meeting was a major step towards greater regional co-operation in Citizenship-by-Investment programmes.
“I am grateful to other jurisdictions for their willingness to join us in St Kitts and Nevis, in exploring opportunities to build a more robust architecture based on our joint commitments to greater transparency, enhanced credibility and efficiency in our Citizenship and Investment Programme,” said Prime Minister Harris.
Government officials, industry leaders, service providers, regulators and other stakeholders are meeting under the theme “Transparency, Credibility and Efficiency”.
Gaston Browne, the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, hailed it as a “historic and important conference.” He emphasised that “it is important that we protect our projects, that our programmes remain competitive but also sustainable. We need to create a globally competitive Caribbean brand.”
Emmanuel Nanthan, Citizenship by Investment Unit ambassador of Dominica, said that greater regional cooperation was imperative. “We are one Caribbean community,” he said. “What affects one of us affects us all. St Kitts has the Park Hyatt being built by Range Developments, while in Dominica the same developer is about to start construction of the Cabrits Resort Kempinski. We all look forward to working together more closely.”
Nicholle Manz–Baazaoui, Political and economic counselor at the Embassy of the United States in Barbados, said that the US Government welcomed the initiative. “We understand how important these programmes are to the Caribbean,” she said. “But it is also important that these programmes are run responsibly and that our national security is not compromised. This seminar is a good step in that direction.”
Victoria Dean, the British High Commissioner to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, agreed that more dialogue was good, along with more transparency and due diligence. “Help me to help you,” she said. “Regional governments need to be able to show that they are serious about these programmes. The British are happy to help in any way we can, but we are not in the business of doing your due diligence.”
Prime Minister Harris also said that programmes such as these, properly set up and appropriately administered and policed, can be an important national asset and vehicle for much-needed foreign direct investment. It can also become a potent driver of employment, and can contribute to the sustainable growth of the national economy. He continued, they could provide the resources for sustaining debt-reduction efforts, modernizing our public infrastructure, supporting indigenous and local entrepreneurship, and create a pool of resources for the inevitable rainy days.
The conference was organised by IPSA International, a root9B Technologies, Inc. company which assists clients in mitigating risks throughout the world.