As the backlash against the region’s Citizenship by Investment Programmes (CIP) gathers support, the Government will be moving to restructure the local programme.
On the weekend, Prime Minister Gaston Browne announced that Antigua and Barbuda – as well as other regional countries who sell their passports – has been given an ultimatum by the European Union (EU): To shut down the programmes or lose visa-free access to the Schengen area.
Accordingly, Cabinet has decided to amend the CIP legislation, so the programme can be known as the “Residency and Citizenship by Investment Programme.”
This will enable persons who wish to establish a home here to do so under conditions that are identical to the citizenship programme in the United States.
“It will allow those who wish to retain their citizenship of their place of birth to enjoy virtually all the benefits of the Citizenship by Investment Programme – without having citizenship conferred,” this week’s Cabinet Notes say.
Meanwhile, critics complain that if the Browne Administration had not watered-down the programme, and had retained the regulations left in place by the United Progressive Party (UPP) Administration, it would not be faced with this issue.
Further, some say that Antiguans and Barbudans would still have visa-free access to Canada, which was taken away in June 2017.
Among other plans, the Cabinet is proposing the creation of a CIP Regulatory Commission to operate among the Caribbean countries that market their citizenship.
According to the Notes, the Commission “would seek to blunt the announcement that European countries are moving to block CIP states from enjoying the privileges of Schengen visa waivers.”
The OECS Assembly is expected to meet here on Friday, March 18, at which time the local delegation should raise the subject.