The Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis presented of the 2021 Budget address and mentioned the benefits received from the CBI program.
The Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Programme continues to make a real difference in the lives of our citizens and residents.
The CBI Programme continued to be one of the major contributors to the economy in 2020. We expect that this level of contribution would be sustained in 2021.
Despite some setbacks related to the pandemic, the volume of applications for the year so far has improved. Applications have come from all over the world including the USA, Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa. We have become the preferred choice of the discerning investor owing to our high quality of life index, the strength of our passport and the recognition of the St. Kitts and Nevis’ CBI Programme as the Platinum Brand.
Our CBI Programme continues to be ranked as one of the best in the industry. The latest Henley and Partners’ Passport Index ranked St. Kitts and Nevis number 1 in the OECS and number 2 in the Caribbean, with visa free access to a total of 156 countries. St Kitts and Nevis also performed well in the 2020 Financial Times CBI Index, again with a perfect score of 10 for Due Diligence, Timeline, Ease of Process, Product Certainty and Mandatory Travel Requirements.
The Government continues to ensure that the integrity of the Programme is maintained with a robust due diligence process and changes in legislation. Continued amendments to the Escrow Bill will ensure that clients’ funds are received and ultimately used for construction of relevant projects. This will further enhance the integrity of our real estate market.
We expect construction activity to pick up pace and thereby increase the contribution of the CBI Programme to the achievement of positive GDP growth in 2021.
Mr. Speaker, our CBI Programme continues to be a leader in innovation in the international market place. Very recently, my Government took the decision to expand the reach of the Programme by providing the opportunity for private homes to be sold under the CBI Programme.
This initiative would create opportunities for our real estate agents, while giving citizens and residents of St. Kitts and Nevis the opportunity to participate in the Programme if their homes meet the value threshold and other appropriate standards. This would also help to create jobs in construction and the maintenance of homes. Our Cabinet has also introduced an Alternative Investment Option to be used for privately supported projects which are in sync with Government initiatives.
Mr. Speaker, the CBI Programme is a highly competitive one. We have to maintain our Platinum status and utilize it as an instrument to facilitate economic growth and expand the fiscal and economic space of our country. This programme is a provider of foreign exchange and we can leverage the incredible talented pool of our diasporic community to help meet any skills gaps in our country. Additionally, it can bring new ideas and networks to advance the development thrust that we have determined. In 2021, we will be more deliberate in the following:
a) Target marketing of the CBI programme in existing and new markets
b) Encourage economic citizens to live, work and invest further in St. Kitts and Nevis
c) Implement new options/innovations to the Programme such as the inclusion of the Alternative Investment option.
The Alternative Investment option will provide a mechanism to support key priority areas such as financing programmes for youth development, build out of our digital economy, upgrade of our technical and technological skill sets, meeting the huge demand for homes at the lower, middle and high end of the income ladder. We will be alert to reforms and developments in the international market place which may threaten our Platinum Brand. In this regard, we will procure services of intelligence gathering experts and persons of influence who can intervene in the critical market places and capitals so as to promote and/or defend our CBI Programme. We will be more agile in our legislative support for a stronger CBI Programme.
Mr. Speaker, it is being predicted that world tourism, and more specifically tourism in the Caribbean, would not fully recover until some time in 2023. The reopening of our borders in the last quarter of 2020, although promising, is expected to have only a marginal impact on the Tourism Sector given the continued prevalence of the virus within our major source markets. In 2021 tourism is projected to record a moderate recovery.
St. Kitts & Nevis' full 2021 budget presentation is available here