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Fiscal incentives part of honorary citizenship programme – Eustace

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Fiscal incentives through a local development bank are some of the benefits that may be available to Garifuna people who are granted honorary citizenship under a New Democratic Party (NDP) administration.

This country’s opposition leader Arnhim Eustace was speaking on a Los Angeles based radio station on the ‘Garifuna Music and Talk’ programme with DJ Labuga on Wednesday night, when he made this disclosure.{{more}}

“We would wish to encourage the diaspora, including the Garifuna, to invest in business ventures through a system of incentives, fiscal and otherwise, and we will be willing to examine the use of our development bank facilities for this purpose,” Eustace said.

According to Eustace, this and other benefits are scheduled to be discussed with Garifuna leaders over the next few months, so that everyone can have a clear idea of the benefits of honorary citizenship, as well as the extent of the deepening relationship between the Garifuna and people of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

He noted that a vast majority of Garifuna will want to come to St Vincent, their ancestral homeland, at some point, even as tourists. This influx of visitors, Eustace said, will benefit this country economically, particularly once the international airport is completed.

In relation to dual citizenship, the opposition leader noted that some Garifuna people live in countries where dual citizenship is not allowed and so, there will be discussions of other aspects of honorary citizenship so that all Garifuna can be recognized, no matter where they reside.

“We’ll come to a conclusion; finalize an arrangement that is beneficial to all of us. On that basis, we will operate,” he said.

“There are people who are citizens of the United States. There are countries which don’t allow dual citizenship and we must take that into account. We can’t ignore that. Some countries don’t want you to swear allegiance to another country otherwise you will lose your citizenship. We have to take all that into account in making a determination as to what exactly we are going to do on the question of Garifuna, who have been exiled for over two centuries.”

The Opposition Leader declared that his Party’s stance was a way of righting the historic wrong that has stretched over 200 years and took the opportunity to assure all Garifuna that his Party is extremely serious with regard to granting honorary citizenship.

Going forward, he made a call for all to cooperate as they determine the way forward to “achieving the goal of being one people, from one country.”

He also said that before the end of this month, a delegation of Garifuna leaders is expected to visit SVG, and while here, they will address a public meeting of the NDP in “Garifuna country,” at Sandy Bay.

Last Wednesday night’s programme was broadcast on two radio stations reaching listeners on the eastern and western seaboard of the USA. Both radio stations also broadcast live online and it is stated that their listenership extends to Garifuna communities in Central American countries.

While addressing a town hall meeting in New York on May 31, Eustace declared that should the NDP form the next government, honorary Vincentian citizenship would be granted to all Garifuna in the diaspora. The population of Garifuna outside of St Vincent and the Grenadines is estimated at over 700,000.

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