Investors Flock to St Kitts and Nevis
Of all the Citizenship by Investment Programs on offer across the world, the former British colony and twin-nation federation state of St. Kitts & Nevis in the Caribbean, which has been independent since 1983, is considered by many to be pre-eminent. Helped by encouraging macro and socio-economic states of affair, resulting from business-friendly laws and regulations, a pro-investment government and comprehensive service provision, it possesses the ideal pre-existing conditions for a strong and successful CIP.
Until 2005, the mainstay of the economy was the sugar industry, but free market forces no longer made this viable without significant subsidies, such that it retreated into history to be replaced by tourism and the more abstract international financial services sector, alongside an array of related service industries, the fortunes of which are not determined by land availability or physical proximity to markets.
The country’s pioneering status in respect of Citizenship by Investment saw it steal a march on those who would seek to ape the template it initially introduced and years later it is still the model of best practice others aspire to. Its CIP is marked by strong due diligence, full freedom of movement, a high standard of living and a minimum investment outlay that is not prohibitive, yet sufficiently high to remain discerning. In addition, there is no mandatory travel or residence, while applications are processed swiftly. Moreover, since its inception, the country’s CIP has helped to rejuvenate its tourism product, so allowing it to position itself as a premium high-end destination to the long-haul traveller.
As to the specific investment options, the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation has helped to realign the economy and the country’s people around new industries, while another path amounts to investment in pre-approved real estate developments. Meanwhile, the recently introduced Sustainable Growth Fund is designed to help further accelerate St Kitts and Nevis’ economic fortunes.
The St Kitts and Nevis Citizenship by Investment Unit, which administers the program, is headed up by someone who constitutes the most important figure in CIP across the globe, bar none, at this present juncture. This is Les Khan, who has recently been appointed as head of CIPA, the association representing the interests of the five Caribbean countries involved in the sector, which has Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia and Antigua and Barbuda as members, alongside St Kitts and Nevis.
With the latter, the legal and regulatory frameworks around areas such as company registration, land acquisition, labour laws and tax regimes, is decidedly inviting for the international investor.
Meanwhile, St Kitts is also home to the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, the central bank for the Eastern Caribbean dollar and the monetary authority for most members of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS). Sited in Basseterre, the island’s capital, it seeks to fulfil its mandate to maintain price and financial sector stability, by acting as a stabiliser and safe-guard of the banking system in the Eastern Caribbean Economic and Currency Union.
This incredibly important institution for the region attracts the brightest minds and has a sphere of influence that nourishes many other businesses, so further cementing the country’s reputation as a jurisdiction of some gravitas, from where the balanced growth and development of the whole region is administered.
The country has been governed by prime minister Timothy Harris since February 2015, who has brought a new dynamic agenda, following the two-decade premiership of his predecessor, Denzil Douglas. This has coincided with the country experiencing new levels of prosperity, resilience, and innovative development that aims to preserve all that’s best and most appealing, while still delivering on electoral promises to improve the lot of its citizens. Informed by this, the CIP is the ideal route to help create a flourishing economy.
In Nevis, the smaller of the two nations, foreign direct investment has had a transformative effect on its fortunes, contributing to its economic growth and social development and affording it access to capital, technology, management know-how and new markets, with CIP revenues having contributed much to the changed landscape.
Right now, the island is looking to consolidate the great strides it has made in recent years in attracting investment, with a particular focus on promoting opportunities around eco and medical tourism, agro-processing and renewable energy.
Collectively, meanwhile, St Kitts and Nevis has posted the strongest figures in the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union in respect of growth and fiscal performance in recent years, with the IMF documenting the low debt-to-GDP ratio, and an all-round stellar economic performance.
Never one to rest on its laurels, the CIU is always looking to improve, recently upping its game around the time it takes to process applications, at the behest of PM Harris’ Team Unity Government. It wholeheartedly approves of the high bar Les Khan has set for the organisation and the manner in which he and his team have proactively purveyed it worldwide, so ensuring its credibility and integrity is maintained and that all stakeholders can be confident in its capacity to deliver on its mandate.