The St Vincent and the Grenadines government says it remains opposed to the controversial citizenship by investment programme (CIP) as a means of luring foreign investors to the island, reports the Trinidad & Tobago Guardian.
Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, addressing the launch of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce Finance Fair Monday night, said that his administration remains opposed to the CIP which he described as a “race to the bottom”.
Several Caribbean countries, including Antigua and Barbuda, St Kitts-Nevis and Dominica have established CIPs through which foreign investors are given citizenship in return for making a significant investment in the socio-economic development of these countries.
Gonsalves told the private sector that he was re-affirming his Unity Labour Party (ULP) position on the issue and that his government has no intention of having a citizenship by investment programme.
“That is to say, the selling of citizenship and passports,” he said.
“The five other independent countries of the OECS have gone that way. I wish them well. We just simply have a different perspective on it, because, in one jurisdiction, which has been in the forefront, a lot of problems occurring,” he said in an apparent reference to St Kitts and Nevis, which he did not name.
“You have population of 50,000 and you have 12,000 economic citizens,” Gonsalves added.
Prime Minister Gonsalves said that the space is narrowing for economic citizenship programmes, adding, “and there is a race to the bottom in all of them and there’re a lot of good products in this area in other countries where people from China and the Middle East are rushing to—Austria, Portugal, but, of course, they have different type of—better run regimes for these types of things.