No economic citizenship programme for SVG
August 8, 2014

No economic citizenship programme for SVG

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves says his administration has no intention of jumping on the economic citizenship bandwagon.

During a press conference at Cabinet Room on Monday, Gonsalves reiterated his stance on the controversial revenue measure, which has been introduced by a number of OECS and CARICOM countries.{{more}}

“If I am the last man standing with that, that is the position that I hold and I happen to believe that is the position of the vast majority of the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

“I maintain that the highest office in the land is that of citizen. What binds us together are the bonds of citizenship…. For me, citizenship is not a commodity for sale and the passport, which is a manifestation of the citizenship, is not also for sale.”

Gonsalves, who described the revenue measure as “a superficially attractive option” noted that the process has its advantages, but argued that these are “outweighed” by the disadvantages, citing due diligence as a major setback to the procedure.

“When anybody tells me they will do due diligence, I know how due diligence is being done, and to do due diligence for one or two investors or one or two persons who come in seeking citizenship in one of the other ways by naturalization or by the five-year rule, you can manage the due diligence in that respect.

“But if you have a flood of applications, as you have in some jurisdictions for citizenship, and you tell me you doing due diligence, I only smile because I know you going to get caught with several.

“This is why in several jurisdictions you have all these complaints made about this, that, and the other person being associated with this or that criminal enterprise and so on, and so forth.”

Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace has said he is considering the programme for possible implementation should the New Democratic Party form government. In an earlier interview with SEARCHLIGHT, Eustace said with proper due diligence in place, the programme can work.

“I don’t see a problem once you have proper monitoring of the programme…,” he said in a 2012 interview.

St Kitts and Nevis, Dominica and Grenada have economic citizenship programmes, with St Lucia considering a move in that direction.(JJ)