by Linda Straker
- CBI programme may cease to exist because of international pressure
- Amendments to CBI legislation deliberated during Friday’s sitting of Parliament
One of the two backbenchers in the House of Representatives is of the opinion that the Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Programme in Grenada and other regional territories “will cease to exist in a very short time” because of international pressure from the more developed countries, and due to the continuous lowering of the cost in islands with similar programmes.
“That threat is coming to us from two different angles. First we have the regional CBI countries or countries that are involved in the CBI programmes, but what we have is a better thy neighbour policy, each one trying to outdo the other in order to get favour in the market,” said Anthony Boatswain, who claims that this practice is a serious threat that will result in OECD countries expressing concerns.
“As we lower the bar, chances are we might get involved in other activities that they will cite as not in their interest, and that programme, Mr Speaker, will also come to an end,” he said. Boatswain, who at the time was deliberating on amendments to the CBI legislation during Friday’s sitting of Parliament, said that such a move by the OECD would be an unfortunate development.
“What we need is not competition among the countries; the countries should be involved in harmonizing their policies with regards to the CBI, so investors cannot play one against the other, but we are falling victim to that, and we are on a race as to who can outbid each other,” said Boatswain who is a former Minister responsible for Finance, Planning and Trade.
Boatswain said that regional governments should be cognisant of the global environment and recognise that over the past years “we had to recognise the confluence of forces of how small dependent developing economies exist within the global framework.”
“Whether the relationship is good or dismantled, they determine what is best for us; it has always been in their interest, they determine what is not good for us,” he said. Boatswain elaborated his point by referring to other programmes that were once working in the interest of the region but eventually were removed by the developed countries which felt it was not in their interest.
Preferential treatment for our bananas and the offshore banking sectors were two of the examples he provided.
Boatswain said that presently there are changes taking place in the global market that have the potential to negatively affect the region and other small developing nations.
The changes in the CBI legislation provide for removing permanent residence as a path to citizenship, and make it easier for siblings and dependents of applicants to also become citizens and to receive passports under the programme.