Options: St Kitts established the first Citizen-by-Investment Program in 1984. This columnist believes their model is too lenient —many models, including the US Visa Programme, are worth investigating she says. *Photo supplied
Options: St Kitts established the first Citizen-by-Investment Program in 1984. This columnist believes their model is too lenient —many models, including the US Visa Programme, are worth investigating she says. *Photo supplied

I’ve got to admit that I was pretty jealous when I saw that my fellow columnist, Christopher Famous was down in St Kitts soaking up the rays with his family.  

Why didn’t he invite me?  I could have gone.  I’m fun at cocktail parties.  But alas, it was not to be.  I thought he liked me.

I’ve never been to St Kitts and Nevis but it sure looks beautiful. I hope to have an opportunity to go there one day but it won’t be to invest in St Kitts.  

I’ll be happy to stay at a hotel, buy a few Pina coladas but my money or what I have left will stay in Bermuda.  

I believe in Bermuda and I’m not giving up.

I know that Christopher believes in Bermuda too.  I think — I hope that his recommendation to invest in St Kitts comes from that place in his heart when he thinks about his family and the many Bermudian families who have ties to St Kitts.  

His cerebral cortex, however, knows better. 

Bermuda already suffers from too much money leaving the island and not enough new money coming in.  

Witness the last several years and the shuttered businesses. Witness the unemployment, the children who are going hungry and the charities that can’t keep up with demand. You want to take money out of Bermuda? No friend, you want to attract new money to this island and as quickly as possible.  

Christopher and his family must have had a ball with the 2.7 exchange rate in St Kitts. 

Heck, if I had been invited the drinks would have been on me. 

It’s easy to get carried away and wonder what your Bermuda dollar, which is par with the US dollar, can do for you if you are visiting an Eastern Caribbean Currency Union.   Methinks his last “cool glass of white rum mixed with sugar cane juice” went to his head. Vacations can do that to people.

If you’re not lucky enough to have family from St Kitts don’t worry. 

Citizen by investment

You can pretty much buy property or land without too many restrictions and if citizenship is what you’re after, St Kitts and Nevis has the distinction of establishing the first “Citizen-by-Investment Program” which was established in 1984. 

While Christopher rightly notes that “tourism is king” in St Kitts, it is really the only viable industry Kittians have right now since the sugar cane industry was closed by their Government in 2005.  The world could produce cheaper sugar and now they have tourism, some banking and their “Citizen-by-Investment Program.”

Keep in mind that with a weak EC dollar, St Kitts and Nevis’s growth in tourism shouldn’t come as a surprise.  

For many tourists, bargains are king and they’ll happily flock to the cheapest hot dog stand. An average maid makes the equivalent of about EC $10 or US $3.50 an hour and I’m sure that their t-shirts (…made somewhere else, now where I have seen that before?) are a lot cheaper than ours.  

Food for thought when you think about how our own massive debt puts us at risk of a devalued
Bermuda dollar.

The people of St Kitts and Nevis want money and they want foreign money because that is the only way they can build their economy.  

Their debt stands at EC $2.9 billion or just over US 1 billion and with a recent restructuring of their debt they are eager for you to invest in their island. Their Citizen-by-Investment model doesn’t have to be Bermuda’s model. 

Frankly, their model is too lenient. But many models, including the very successful US visa programme (EB-5) is worth investigating. Pointing the finger at Government for even contemplating a commercial immigration programme with threats that you’ll lose your visa free travel, lose your job or that poor little Bermuda will be crawling with unsavoury money laundering criminals (we’ll have gaming for that) is nothing more than scaremongering.  

Bermuda and St Kitts have a shared history with our families.  

I bet I would love St Kitts and Nevis but there’s one thing I’m not prepared to have in common with the people of St Kitts and that is the value of their dollar.