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Eustace favours Economic citizenship

Eustace favours Economic citizenship

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Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace has defended his party’s position on economic citizenship, saying that it is something he is still eyeing for possible implementation in the future.{{more}}

While Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves reaffirmed his own opposition to the issuance of Vincentian citizenship to foreign investors, the Opposition Leader says that with due diligence in place, the idea is one that will ease the financial strains of Vincentians.

“I don’t see a problem once you have proper monitoring of the program, and that is one of the weaknesses last time why we held back.

“When investors come into the country, we don’t have to charge any tax to nationals; the investors pay the fees…. Because of our present financial situation, we are under pressure to increase the taxes on our population. So countries in that position try to find other means of raising money, which does not come on their own people. So if somebody wants to make an investment in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and you say the minimum investment is $400,000, they have to pay that to the country, and for that, they will say that they would like to be a citizen of the country… nobody in St. Vincent will have to pay that, and the pressure on the poor people will be reduced….”

Eustace, who spoke on the phone to Searchlight on Tuesday, March 6, was responding to statements made by Gonsalves during a press conference the previous day.

While speaking on the topic, the Prime Minister pointed out that as far as his administration is concerned, there is one class of citizenship.

“It is not a commodity for sale. It is not to be part of a transaction…. We saw that experience in 2010 in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and what was promised was economic citizenship that is happening in other places in the region…. I personally stand unequivocally opposed to the sale of our citizenship….”

The leader of the New Democratic Party pointed out that the policy is employed in St. Kitts/Nevis and Dominica, and major countries such as the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

“I notice now that Grenada is moving to a program; it’s called by a different name, but essentially trying to attract funding by bringing investors into the country.”

He said that although his party had introduced the initiative; which is also called Investor Programs, a final decision had not been made as to if it will be implemented in an NDP administration, but is something that he will definitely be looking at again.

Eustace said, however, if the due diligence is not in place, it makes no sense adopting the program.

“The last time we discussed that matter, not sufficient work had been done in terms of the due diligence; that is, the investigations of the persons who applied. What you need to do is go through a detailed investigations before you encourage anybody to come and make that investment.

“You will not necessarily catch everybody, but you will catch anybody who is crooked.”(JJ)

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