Raymond Roberts, Labour Senator in the Upper House, has described the amendment to the Citizenship by Investment Act, as ill-advised. He said it is aimed at legitimising government’s approach to doing business in the “dead of the night.”
Roberts was the only senator present during debate on the Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Amendment Act. He said that the labour movement whom he represents in the Senate is very concerned with government’s decision to delete from the original legislation the section which provides for the names of all applicants to be published in the Parliamentary Bi-Annual Report.
“We are an open society and want to see transparency. We therefore cannot understand the reason for the removal of this section which will let us know who our new citizens are,” he said while debating the removal of Section 15 Sub Section B of the Citizenship by Investment Act.
Roberts reminded the House that during the first citizenship programme, there were nationals from countries known to be involved in terrorist activities, receiving Grenada’s citizenship and passport. Roberts said that publishing the names of all who applied for citizenship will let everyone knows who hold Grenadian passports.
Roberts said that he foresees some governments taking action against Grenada for embarking on the programme, which has the potential to hide wanted persons who might be involved in acts of terror. Without naming any potential countries who may take such action he said, “Once again I see further visa restriction.”
Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell has said that it was an error on the part of government to initially include a section in the CBI legislation to provide for the names, addresses and nationalities of persons who applied for Grenada citizenship to be made public. “I think it was an error on our part. No other country has it in their legislation and that could be a hindrance to us. There is no need to expose every single name who applied,” Dr Mitchell said.
According to the legislation, the Citizenship by Investment Committee shall be responsible for processing any application for any licence under the Act, and any application for Citizenship by Investment or Permanent Residence by Investment.
Section 7 of the legislation states “the Committee may engage the services of one or more persons or bodies which are independent, professional, and qualified, to conduct due diligence checks in respect of every applicant, and every dependent over eleven years of age. The applicant may be required to attend an interview in Grenada or at an Embassy or High Commission of Grenada, before any decision is made in relation to his or her application. An application for Citizenship by Investment or for Permanent Residence by Investment shall only be submitted by an Agent who is the holder of a Local Agent’s licence.”
Since getting the parliamentary approval to establish a Citizenship by Investment Programme by establishing a Citizenship by Investment Committee, Grenada has appointed two marketing agents whose task is to identify suitable applicants for citizenship by investment or permanent residence. They are Peter de Savary Company and the United States Regional Economic Development Authority (USREDA). It is unclear which area de Savary’s company will focus. The USREDA will focus on projects and real estate.
By Linda Straker