CARIBBEAN | Regional leaders To Examine Citizenship By Investment Programme

CARIBBEAN | Regional leaders To Examine Citizenship By Investment Programme

MONTEGO BAY,  Jamaica, January 30, 2023 - The Heads of Government of  Five Caribbean States that depend on the Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programme as a source of financing,  are to meet on Tuesday via video conference to look at ways in which the embattled regional investment programme can be strengthened.

This follows a recent announcement by the United Kingdom government  that an  investigation would be launched by the United Kingdom, into the CBI,  with a view to determine the extent to which those programs have the ability to undermine the Security of the UK.

In addition, the Regional Prime Ministers are reacting to a concern by the European Union, that it was considering the removal of visa-free access to the Schengen Area for countries that currently operate Citizenship by Investment Programmes 

In light of the foregoing, Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit will hold virtual discussions on Tuesday with a number of his fellow Prime Ministers in the region to discuss their countries’ Citizenship by Investment Programme.

Skerrit told a press conference on Monday: “We have taken a decision to convene a meeting tomorrow via zoom involving Dominica, Antigua, Grenada, St. Kitts and St. Lucia, where “The prime ministers will meet to discuss the CBI programmes, the opportunities, the challenges, and of course the global environment within which our CBI programmes are operating, all of us recognizing how important a non-tax revenue this programme is for us.” 

According to Skerrit, the meeting is also geared at consolidating efforts to see what could be put in place to ensure the CBI programs are in a stronger position.

The prime ministers of St Lucia, St Kitts, Antigua and Barbuda and Grenada are all expected to be part of the zoom meeting which will seek ways to collaborate to strengthen and enhance the CBI programmes in the respective territories.

In March last year, the EU announced that it was considering the removal of visa-free access to the Schengen Area – a zone of 26 European countries, including Italy, France and Spain – for countries that currently operate Citizenship by Investment Programmes (CIP).    

That means countries including Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis and St Lucia could be severely affected, as visa-free travel to the Schengen Area is one of the most attractive elements of their programmes. 

Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne believes that Antigua and Barbuda’s digital nomad programme is one alternative that could be fully exploited, since it does not involve alleviating tax burdens which the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) deems to be unfair competition.Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne believes that Antigua and Barbuda’s digital nomad programme is one alternative that could be fully exploited, since it does not involve alleviating tax burdens which the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) deems to be unfair competition.After the announcement was made, Antigua and Barbuda prime minister Gaston Browne wrote to the EU, detailing the financial devastation that these countries would face if they were to end their citizenship programmes to avoid losing their visa-free access. 

He reiterated that concern during an online forum on Tuesday, also noting that removing the citizenship aspect would make it difficult for OECS countries to compete with others that offer similar programmes.  

Prime Minister Skerrit acknowledged support from the United States Government to strengthen Dominica’s CBI programme, noting that “Late last year a team from the US Treasury Department visited Dominica on our invitation to examine our CBI programmes in an objective manner.

He said this was to “see where the strengths are, where the weaknesses are and what their recommendations were,” Mr. Skerrit stated, adding that a follow-up meeting is planned with other countries in the region which operate the CBI.

“We are looking at the CBI to see how we can better position the programme to stand the test of any scrutiny from anybody,” he said.


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