By Demion McTair. Updated 2:18 a.m., Tuesday, July 7, 2020, Atlantic Standard Time (GMT-4).
Kingstown, St. Vincent (ONE NEWS SVG) – Leader of the Opposition and President of the New Democratic Party (NDP), Dr. Godwin Friday, has promised that his party will introduce a Citizenship by Investment (CBI) program for St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
In a sponsored Facebook post from his official page, Dr. Friday said “Under my leadership, an NDP Government will introduce a CBI program that will bring in debt-free, tax-free money to invest in job creating projects in South Windward and get SVG working again!”.
In the video that accompanied the sponsored post’s caption, the NDP said it will implement the CBI program in 2021.
Citizenship by investment is the process of obtaining a second citizenship and passport by investing in the economy of the host country, according to Arton Capital.
Citizenship by investment has long been a controversial issue in St. Vincent and the Grenadines with the Prime Minister and Political Leader of the Unity Labour Party (ULP), Dr. Ralph Gonsalves rejecting the program.
In 2018, the Prime Minister said “Everybody can go about selling passports if they want and selling citizenship. The government which I head will never do it” – according to Searchlight Newspaper.
“The principle is very straightforward. The highest office in the land is that of citizen. It is that which binds all of us together in a political society called a state, we have rights and obligations to each other, that’s the highest office… Higher than Governor General, higher than Prime Minister. It is not a commodity for sale and the passport is the outward sign of the inward grace of citizenship and that to is not a commodity for sale,” Gonsalves said, according to Searchlight Newspaper.
Dr. Gonsalves said that the US and many other countries agree with St. Vincent and the Grenadines stance on CBI which is grounded in principle and practicality.
But, the opposition party has maintained that CBI programs, “if they are properly administered”, can help to create opportunities.
In November 2018, Dr. Godwin Friday said “No one has said that these programs are in any way illegal or illicit”, adding that the US, the UK and some European countries have programs like CBI – Searchlight Newspaper reported.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines is one of a few Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) countries that have not implemented a formal CBI program.
St. Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, St. Lucia, and Grenada have CBI programs.
The British Overseas Territories – Montserrat, and Anguilla, which are also ECCU member countries, are not known to have CBI programs.
Anguilla, however, says it has a Residency by Investment program and that the program is not a Citizenship by Investment program, according to investmentimmigration.com
Citizenship by Investment (CBI) is expected to be a major talking point for both major political parties in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, in the upcoming general election.
The election is constitutionally due by December 2020, with a grace period of three months – up to March 2021.