BASSETERRE, St Kitts:
St Kitts will soon introduce captive insurance legislation, according to St Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr Denzil Douglas, who told service providers including lawyers, accountants and representatives of the financial services sector in Zurich, Switzerland that the new captive insurance legislation will provide “extremely competitive licensing fees for small captives that do not have premiums over US$1.5 million.”
“The basket of services being offered by St Kitts is slowly growing and the development of new products is being done with as much risk management and quality assurance as the industry demands internationally,” Douglas told the group at the Zurich Marriott in an effort to boost the financial services sector.
Douglas said that the Marketing and Development Department, since it was launched April 2001, has actively sought to encourage financial services providers to become licensed to operate in St Kitts.
“We have found from experience that providers who have come in from overseas and who have established themselves, are the ones who have reaped the tremendous benefits and rewards of our very competitive government fees for the setting up of companies for trust, for limited partnerships and more recently for foundations,” said Douglas.
He said the local entities provide ideal tax planning and estate planning opportunities for high net worth individuals and also for those whose annual incomes does not exceed six digits.
Douglas pointed out that St Kitts has sought and has continued to cater to all income brackets. “We have particularly striven not to exclude the smaller companies and the not so wealthy individuals from the opportunities that our entities and our structures can provide for them,” said the Prime Minister, who pointed out that it was for “this particular reason, that there is no minimum capital requirement for the establishment of the St Kitts Foundation, which is required in just about every other jurisdiction offering Foundations today.”
“It is also for this reason that the cost for setting up an exempt company, a trust, a limited partnership or a foundation, which is not subject to local taxation in St Kitts, is only US$200,” said Douglas, who touted that the competitiveness of St Kitts as a financial services jurisdiction, is not just about the range of financial products offered.
“The competitiveness of this island is also about stable macro-economic climate that is characterised by low inflation rates that has been in the region of only two percent over the past five years. Steady economic growth is also an important factor, one that is well above the average of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) of which St Kitts and Nevis is a part of with a very strong Eastern Caribbean dollar that is at a fixed parity of one US dollar to EC$2.70 EC for over a quarter of a century,” said Douglas, who added that “there is a perfect debt servicing record in our country in spite of a relatively high debt to GDP ratio.”
“The competitiveness of our island as a provider of financial services is also significantly enhanced by our excellent social and economic infrastructure, including state of the art telecommunications, a road network that is among the best in the Caribbean, a literacy rate which is over 98 percent, and a range of high quality health and social services that have put St Kitts and Nevis among the highest ranking group of countries listed only recently by the United Nations Development Programme through a High Human Development Index,” said Douglas.
The St Kitts and Nevis leader expressed thanks to the service providers in Switzerland, who have been using the entities and the services offered in St Kitts.
“We are here also to encourage those of you who do not know much about us, to seek to learn more about us and to learn about the services that we are offering within the international financial services sector,” said Douglas.
Emphasising that the motto of the St Kitts Marketing and Development Department is “customer service begins one customer at a time,” Douglas said this was the theme, “we would like to permeate our entire financial services industry.”
He said that St Kitts, although it has a small financial services sector compared to other jurisdictions, continues to emphasise the provision of quality and efficient service and this is what will distinguish the jurisdiction definitely from other competitors now and in the future.
“As Prime Minister of this beautiful country, what we call a paradise that is still to be discovered, I have followed very closely the development of the Financial Services Sector over the last ten years, and I have been very heartened by the continued expansion of this sector,” said Douglas.
He noted that when he took office as the Prime Minister in 1995, his St Kitts Nevis Labour Party recognised that the time had come to diversify the national economy away from sugar agriculture and the financial services sector on St Kitts was established in 1996. “Today I am pleased that we are doing fine but we need to take this sector to the next level and that is why we are here.”