St Kitts and Nevis: As the Government of St Kitts and Nevis has been questioned over the cost of the construction of the new prison project Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris has put to rest any speculation and outlined every detail of the project.
He stated that not one cent of Government money is being spent on new correctional facilities and declined the reports that the new facility being constructed in the Estridge area will cost the Government and people of St. Kitts and Nevis over two billion EC dollars.
“I want to make it clear that contrary to what [some former ministers] are saying that this [facility] will cost us $2.25 billion, tell them not one cent of government money is going to that. Not one cent,” PM Harris asserted.
He further explained the project and said that it is being financed by developers through the latest innovation of the country’s Citizenship by Investment Programme. The government-approved public infrastructure projects are to be constructed by private sector developers at their expense in exchange for a portion of CBI investment.
Shedding light upon the use of the correctional facility, PM Harris emphasized that the current prison facility in Basseterre has long outlived its usefulness, but it is the new modern and humane facility and meets international standards.
He stressed, “Our citizens in the jails are people too, and they have their sons and their daughters, mothers and fathers who want to know that in the prisons they are safe. The human rights body…has written to us time and time again and said the prison was overcrowded and that we needed a new one, and everybody agrees.”
Prime Minister Harris further noted that the decision to move forward with the construction of the new prison facility was unanimously supported in Cabinet in 2021.
Further, Cheif Executive Officer (CEO) of the Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU), Les Khan, also spoke about the project on the radio programme on Monday, June 27, 2022, where he asserted that the facility is one of the two projects approved under the new Alternative Investment Option of the Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programme.
He stated that the Alternative Investment Option allows the country to acquire an infrastructural asset that it would not have been able to finance over a period of time. CEO Khan further stressed that neither the Government nor the people of St. Kitts and Nevis pay for new state infrastructure but benefit from its construction.
“There’s an assumption here that $2.2 billion EC dollars is being taken away from the people of St. Kitts and Nevis. There is no $2.2 billion. There is 5,000, 5,500 or whatever the number is in terms of the number of shares that have been allocated to assist the developer in recovering their investment,” Khan explained.
There are two categories of investment under the Alternative Investment Option. One is the privately-funded, privately owned category, where the developer builds a project that meets a government mandate and that developer ultimately owns the project. The second category is the privately-funded, state-owned initiative where the developer does not own the project.
Khan added, “To quote a number like $2.2 billion is basically misleading in the sense that it’s assuming that the developer is selling at $175,000. Now, the difference between the privately-funded and the state-owned [categories under the Alternative Investment Option] is that the privately-funded is at $200,000 and the state-owned is at $175,000 for a family of four. In both initiatives…one thing happens [and that is] that the developer, regardless of which side of the fence it is, pays government fees.”