February 21, 2008
Premier and Minster of Finance the Hon. Joseph Parry told Diplomatic representatives that the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) had intentions to continue to ensure that Nevis maintained an Offshore Financial Services jurisdiction of the highest standard.
The Premier made the statement on Wednesday February 19, 2008, at the Ocean Terrace Inn (OTI) in St. Kitts, when he addressed Diplomatic and Consular representatives accredited to St. Kitts and Nevis while they attended activities to mark the second annual Diplomatic Week hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on St. Kitts.
The Nevis Finance Minister had been invited to present the topic “Nevis’ Strides in the Financial Services Sector” in which he gave a comprehensive outline of some of the activities that contributed to the growth of the industry since it had been introduced on the island in 1984.
“On Nevis we have about 19,000 active companies and they activity contribute about 11 to 12 percent of government revenue. In 2007 what we call IBCs [International Business Corporations] 13,620 of them are active. Limited Liability Companies 4,591 of them are active, Trust -1, 011 of them are active, Multiform Foundations-53 are active and there is one offshore bank.
“If I look at a period from 2001 -2007, you will notice that about 3,723 companies were registered in 2001, it peaked in 2005 to about 4, 280 and the figure right now is 3,471,” he said.
Mr. Parry also spoke of the role of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank as well as the jurisdiction’s commitment to play by international rules, particularly in its efforts to foster growth and development of the people of the Federation and several other jurisdictions in the Caribbean and Internationally.
He outlined pieces of legislation passed into law over the years which enabled the Nevis Financial Services sector to continue to develop and also measures that his Administration used to ensure that businesses operated at the highest level.
“We have in place compliant officers working in each company that is set up in Nevis and then the government has a Regulator who is in place to work along with other persons who do regulatory services. We have been doing our utmost to discourage activities of a suspicious nature from taking place on the island of Nevis. We have sought to work with and to get support from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) from the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) to ensure that we maintain a jurisdiction of the highest standard.
“It is so important because our Central Bank has the highest reputation that we can want and has the history of doing an excellent job in these OECS islands. I think the Central Bank can bear any kind of international scrutiny in terms of its actions and the way it is structured and the way it operates,” he said.
He said the blacklisting of Nevis in 2000, had had a very negative impact on the island and it was not until 2002 that the jurisdiction was removed and spoke of the need to upgrade some of our professional services in law, auditing and accounting. He however reiterated that the reputation of Nevis had remained strong and even today, people continued to show great interest in the services offered on the island.
“We hope to establish a single regulatory unit on Nevis that will not only deal with offshore but Credit Unions, local insurance companies etc. We are also hoping to promote a Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) so that we can improve the professionalism of the practitioners on the island of Nevis.
“If we wish to be a serious jurisdiction and if we intend to reach a level where we can be giving service which we will regard as international, we have to have lawyers who do some specialist training in the area of these activities so that they can properly advise clients. So that is something that we would want to impress upon our people because we want to make sure that businesses are operating at the highest level,” he said.
The Premier pointed out that St Kitts and Nevis had acceded to the deputy Chairmanship of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force and that next year the Federation will assume the Chairmanship. He said it was important that the island began to set an example and take the necessary actions to keep the jurisdiction clean and maintain a high reputation.
“The Offshore Industry is here to stay, we understand the power of OECD and we understand the power of the (Offshore) Act. We understand that the Act is not always used to deal with terrorists but used to do other things as well but we also believe there are certain laws, certain regulations and certain activities that can be done without attracting too much negative attention.
“I am concerned about the world class services that must be given and the value added in terms of activities”¦This is what we feel that we need on the island of Nevis at this time, something that will take the services to a higher level,” he said.
A question and answer period followed the Premier’s presentation which allowed the representatives to make their contributions.
Other presentations were made on topics which included “Post Sugar Adoption, and Sustainable Tourism Development in St. Kitts and Nevis”. The activity was chaired by Dr. Hon Timothy Harris, Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Federal Parliament.
The week long event commenced on Sunday February 17 and will run through to February 22. It is held under the theme “Maximizing Benefits from International Relations ““ Building Partnerships for Mutual Advantage”.
The week of activities will bring together non-resident Heads of Diplomatic Missions accredited to the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, Members of the local Diplomatic and Consular corps, officials of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and other Ministries.