St Kitts and Nevis generates revenue using economic citizenship programme
Prime Minister of Saint Kitts and Nevis., Denzil Douglas
(Reuters) – St. Kitts and Nevis’ economic citizenship programme was established in 1984, shortly after the country’s independence from Great Britain. But Kittitian officials, including Prime Minister Denzil Douglas, say interest has jumped in the past few years.
The surge comes hand-in-hand with the involvement of Henley & Partners, which has managed and marketed parts of the economic citizenship program since 2007.
No official numbers have been released about the size of the citizenship program in St. Kitts and Nevis, but government and Henley employees offered some estimates. Between 1,000-1,500 individuals have obtained passports, either by buying real estate; the government recently raised the qualifying property value from US$350,000 to US$400,000 – or by donating US$250,000 (up from US$200,000) to the Sugar Industry Diversification Fund, money intended to benefit retired workers in the sugar industry.
Most investors got their citizenship in the last five years.
For a country of just 45,000 with a sovereign debt nearing US$3 billion, nearly twice the country’s GDP, citizenship is an important source of income. The program alone probably added at least US$200 million to the country’s coffers.
Henley refers clients wanting a less expensive alternative to Dominica, where citizenship costs US$75,000. But the incentive to sell St. Kitts is much stronger. For each client Henley brings in, the company receives a client fee of at least US$35,000, plus a share of the investment made into the sugar fund, according to Val Kempadoo, who works directly with Henley and the government on real estate sales and development.
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