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PM, stick to your guns in relation to economic citizenship

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Fri Aug 8, 2014

Editor: St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, is opposed to economic citizenship, while at least four of the OECS states: Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, St Kitts/Nevis and St Lucia are in favour of the move which can rake in millions of dollars.{{more}}

His statement came less than two weeks after an announcement was made by both the OECS and CARICOM states that the economies of the Caribbean Islands are in shambles. As a matter of fact, it was stated by Grenada Prime Minister Keith Mitchell that the OECS countries have to work assiduously towards improving their financial status before they are doomed.

One would have thought that St Vincent and the Grenadines, like its sister countries, needs cash and economic citizenship is a medium in which it could realize millions, but Comrade Ralph said that such a move is a “superficially attractive option” and that the “downside outweighs whatever money you can collect.” He added that it would be difficult to carry out proper due diligence to dozens of applicants.

So far, Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace has not commented on the Prime Minister’s recent statement, but just before the last general elections he said he was in favour of the move. He said “ there is nothing strange with tight and well managed economic citizenship programme.” In fact, he added that it would attract investors. I beg to differ with Mr Eustace, because selling citizenship – especially when the people who buy such citizenships and passports are not required to live in the country for any period of time – demeans the value of citizenship.

More so, I feel that because the people who buy such citizenship are usually doing so to avoid entry provisions in other countries, a great deal of suspicion is cast upon all passport holders, including natives, of the country from which the citizenship is bought.

Also while US and Canada have citizenship by investment programmes, they do not automatically accord citizenship and passports to investors. Such investors are given the right of residence in the country provided that they make an investment and sustain it over a period of time; but they still have to fulfill their constitutional requirements to become citizens – in other words they have to live in the country and pay taxes there for the time prescribed by the Constitution.

Prime Minister Gonsalves therefore should stick to his guns and do not follow his colleagues from the other OECS states.

Oscar Ramjeet

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