PM Harris: Unified effort needed to save CIP

By Loshaun Dixon -March 29, 2022

Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris

By Loshaun Dixon

A united effort is needed among Caribbean territories in order to fight recent moves to block Citizenship by Investment Programmes (CIP) by the European Union, which has threatened visa restrictions to countries that offer them.

The call came from Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris, who said they have been monitoring the situation for some time, regarding specific programmes.

“While we continue to monitor, we are assured that having regards to the robust nature of the due diligence programme in St Kitts and Nevis, which has been independently ranked as one of the best in the world, the same concerns will not pertain to our programme.”

Last Wednesday, the European Parliament voted to ask the European Commission, which can be likened to the Cabinet of Europe, to formulate a strategy asking countries that offer CIP to phase them out or face visa restrictions.

Speaking to media personnel, Prime Minister Harris said the world is changing, and the move was part of the uncertainty in the global environment.

“From our own monitoring of the system, once we continue to be able to assure the critical stakeholders that we have the most robust due diligence programme in the world, then our programme will continue to endure for some time in the future.”

He said his administration will continue through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, at the level of the OECS, to monitor the situation, which could change in any period of time.

“For now, our programme has not been identified, there has been a specific island in the Pacific whose programme has come into condemnation by the EU, and that programme has been suspended.”

Dr Harris said that since taking office, he had appealed for common strategies and policies for all in the region participating in the programme.

“I think collectively we would like to organise. In the end, they see us as one bloc, because it’s really hard to differentiate within the sub-region.”

He added that his efforts did not bring the accelerated coordinated efforts to the programmes around the region.

“Over time we have gone through some of the same shocks, and it has brought a common understanding in terms of accessing due diligence procedures in the determination of successful applicants.”

The prime minister said more work needs to be done, but the OECS Commission and Central Bank had been mandated to coordinate a response

“I want to say the consequence of the region will go far beyond the member states participating. It is in our self-interest and collective interest to get together and coordinate. There is an increasingly hostile climate, and we have to merge and pool our resources to respond early and on time, and to respond in ways that differentiate the quality of our programme, and the contribution of our programme to our way of life.”

Dr Harris added that collectively, CARICOM can make a greater impact than the OECS.

“I do think so; there is some sense of influence in numbers. Singularly, as a small island state, you hardly have any significance, but when we move together you certainly can achieve more.

“We are all individually small in the region; size does matter globally, but when we band together we can move in one voice showing solidarity, and it will be difficult for us to be ignored.”

Last week Antiguan Prime Minister Gaston Browne said the attempt to stop CIP by the European Union is a danger for Caribbean countries.

“It’s a difficult situation, because if you don’t have visa-free access into the Schengen Area, then clearly it will undermine the viability of these programmes, because a lot of people who get our citizenship, do it to gain visa-free access into that region.”

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