LONDON, Sept. 26, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- This week saw the commencement of the 2019 Concordia Annual Summit in New York where a host of high-ranking officials, prominent business and non-profit leaders discussed 'building partnerships for social impact'. Amongst them was St Kitts and Nevis' Prime Minister Timothy Harris, who was invited as a speaker in a panel discussion alongside fellow Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne. The conversation focused on global mobility and economic development particularly within the framework of citizenship by investment (CBI).
"We do not have the luxury of size and space," PM Harris explained, and so "we look to our own ingenuity." Today's concept of 'citizenship by investment' originates from St Kitts and Nevis, who decided a year after gaining independence to allow carefully selected individuals to obtain its citizenship in exchange for an economic contribution.
Those wishing to become citizens of St Kitts and Nevis can do so via the Citizenship by Investment Programme, subject to due diligence checks. If successful, investors – and often their families if they apply jointly – can then enjoy the same rights as native citizens, including the benefit of visa-free travel but excluding the right to vote. Premier Harris explained that "the more we create ease of movement and facilitation to travel, [the more] everyone benefits from that."
Despite being a small dual-island country, St Kitts and Nevis offers its native and economic citizens access to nearly 160 visa-free or visa-on-arrival destinations, making it one of the strongest passports in the OECS and 26th worldwide. St Kitts and Nevis has enjoyed a productive year in terms of expanding visa waivers across Africa, Europe and the Middle East, which further increases its citizens' global mobility.
Besides better international movement, foreign investors in search of certainty and functional citizenship rights often seek "security in a stable country", PM Harris noted. He highlighted the importance of the country's rule of law, with St Kitts and Nevis gracing the world's top 30 list in WJP 2019 Rule of Law Index. "St Kitts and Nevis is now seen as a responsible member of the international community," Premier Harris told the Concordia Summit delegates in New York on Tuesday.
In return, the country accumulates funds for its socio-economic advancement. PM Harris said that CBI "contributes in significant ways to state revenues and to the bulk of the economic activity in the country." The newest channel – the Sustainable Growth Fund – requires a minimum non-refundable investment of US$150,000 and is now the most direct and safe route to second citizenship in St Kitts and Nevis. The fund option and the CBI Programme itself brought "tremendous resources" for the islands' infrastructural development, the Prime Minister further noted.
Since 1984, St Kitts and Nevis has emerged as offering the Platinum Standard of CBI. A special annual report, published by the Financial Times' PWM magazine, highly appreciated the islands' visa-free offerings in this year's CBI Index, and its meticulous due diligence procedures.