February 19, 2010
Opposition looking at offering Economic Citizenship

“After two years of the hardship that the people in St. Vincent and the Grenadines have been facing, we are not in a position to increase taxes on the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”{{more}}

Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace indicated that this is one of the reasons why his New Democratic Party(NDP) is exploring the possibility of offering Economic Citizenship to persons who show an interest in investing in this country.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Eustace admitted that as the party prepares its manifesto, it is examining “all areas which can bring revenue” which will promote employment and economic growth.

“We have to look for activities which will not squeeze our people, but at the same time bring revenue that we can use to pay people’s pension, poor relief, buy drugs for the hospital, salaries, etc.”

“We haven’t taken any final decision yet, but we have been examining economic citizenship, because any charges there are paid by the people who come from outside.”

Eustace likened the initiative to that of the ships’ registry system, where foreign nations pay fees to have the national flag of St. Vincent and the Grenadines on their ships.

Eustace said that these fees are used to provide services to the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Eustace said that persons applying for economic citizenship will undergo screening, which he said will prevent undesirables from getting through the system; although he admitted that some may slip through the cracks.

“We are not going to set up a shop in the market and say ‘come and buy our passports’. People who are interested in economic citizenship we require them to invest money in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”

In his presentation, Eustace indicated that regional and international countries have economic citizenship programmes in place, which brings revenue into their treasuries.

He said that the final decision will be laid out in the NDP manifesto.