BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, Friday July 31, 2015 – Government is tightening eligibility requirements for the twin-island federation’s 30-year-old economic citizenship programme to block foreigners who have been involved in criminal activity from benefiting.
Parliament this week strengthened security and due diligence under the Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programme by passing the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2015.
Among other measures, the Act excludes people who have been engaged in negative activities, such as terrorism and money laundering, from getting citizenship. It also provides for authorities to refuse citizenship in the interest of defence, public safety or public order.
Premier of Nevis and Senior Minister Vance Amory said the move was a step towards “reversing a bad situation”, referring to the concerns the United States, United Kingdom and Canada have expressed about the CBI.
“That situation came as a result of a poor understanding of what the programme means to us, how it functions, and how it should be operated,” he said.
“We just need to look at these and get away from . . . not facing the reality of what existed and [what] now has to be done.”
Amory, who promoted St. Kitts and Nevis’ CBI in Dubai, London and Singapore earlier this year, said the programme had benefited the country significantly.
He said while government would continue to promote it, it was important that to attract people who would hold Kittitian citizenship in high esteem once they obtained it, and those who “have an interest in physically being part of the country”.
The amendments were passed a day before 120 CBI stakeholders shared their ideas at a national consultation yesterday – the first such forum to engage relevant individuals and agencies on the economic citizenship programme.