Once again, the country’s Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) is under threat. This time, the United Kingdom government has said it will be examining all such programmes in the English-speaking Caribbean, with a view to determining how much they undermine its security.
Based on this announcement, the Cabinet reports that it invited Charmaine Quinland-Donovan, chief executive officer of the CIP, to its Cabinet sitting this week.
In the early part of 2022, the EU Parliament passed legislation that gave an ultimatum to certain countries that operate CIP programmes: Do away with them or lose visa-free access to Europe’s Schengen region.
However, the Cabinet asserts that Antigua and Barbuda has an extremely strong due-diligence investigative machinery in place. This, it claims, ensures that only high-caliber applicants who have no negative reports are approved for citizenship.
However, this has not always been the case, since the citizenship of a number of CIP applicants has had to be revoked over the years, while questions remain about those passports handed over to dubious investors for sale.
These include passports traded with Chinese investor Xiao Jinhua and, more recently, the Nigerian investors in the so-called Antigua Airways.
Questions also still linger about the passports manufactured in St. Vincent for international applicants – a scandal that involved a senior police officer and an employee of the local passport office.
Meanwhile, money from the CIP Fund will be used to meet the obligations owed to quarry workers, the Executive reports. All quarry and road-unit workers reportedly are to be brought up to date with overtime payments.
Observers say this is to ensure that Maria Browne, the new Minister of Public Works, is more successful in that ministry than her predecessor, Lennox Weston.