Minister for International Business and Foreign Affair Nickolas Steele, on Wednesday confirmed that changes were made to the proposed bill which will provide for the island to embark on a citizenship programme that is anticipated to bring million in revenue.
The Grenada Citizenship by Investment Bill which was presented for first reading in the island’s parliament on 28 June 2013, makes provision for persons looking to acquire residence and citizenship by investing in Grenada, as well as for incidental and connected purposes.
Though unable to point out specific changes, he said that changes are minor. “It really doesn’t take away from the substance of what was presented for first reading,” said Steele as he re-iterated the purpose of presenting a bill for first reading. “When a bill is presented for first reading, it’s really to give the public an opportunity to comment and present concerns, and these were taken into consideration for us to revise the Bill,” he said.
He further explained that Government consulted with other territories in preparing its own legislation for the citizenship programme, which is already a major revenue earner for regional territories such as St Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, and Antigua. Investigations revealed that Grenada used the Antigua and Barbuda Citizenship by Investment Act 2013, and the St Kitts and Nevis Citizenship by Investment Regulations No 52 of 2011, to assist in developing the Bill.
The legislation provides for the establishment of a Citizenship by Investment Committee, which will be charged with the responsibility of processing any application which must be done by an agent who shall be licensed in advance by the Committee.
According to the Bill, an applicant who is granted citizenship shall enjoy the rights of a citizen, subject to the limitations contained in the Representation of People Act which provides the prerequisite for a person to vote during a general election.
The names of all persons granted permanent residence and citizenship will be presented in the Parliament biannually through a report. Apart from the names, the report should also contain all who were refused citizenship and the amount the person has invested.
The programme, according the Bill, shall be marketed by licensed agent, and anyone who fails to obtain such a license commits and offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding EC$50,000.
The revised Bill is scheduled to be debated and approved when the House of Representatives meets on Friday 2 August 2013. However, before it becomes law, the Upper House must approve the legislation, which will be followed by approval from the Governor General, publication in the Government Gazette and given a date of effect.
by Linda Straker