The Citizens by Investment Initiative
The "Rubber Stamp" Upper House of the Grenada Parliament passed the Citizens by Incentive Initiative Act is a sitting yesterday 22nd August 2013.
This new piece of legislation has its genesis in the period when the NNP held office 1995 to 2008. That period was characterized by a wild dash by the Mitchell administration to generate much needed funds to spend on “prestige” projects of his government.
During that period, the country also dabbled in offshore banking which brought the now famous scandals involving Van Brink, Resteiner, and the Pirate of Prague among others.
The Prime Minister admitted that the prior citizenship program was affected by a lack of mechanisms for due diligence and some people who took advantage of administrative weaknesses in the system. This is an admission of their own incompetence or even willful omission so that their friends can “eat ah food’. No one has ever been fingered or even persecuted for this abuse of process.
What has changed Mr. Prime Minister? The same big wigs are still in place as in your previous administration. The same lineup of senior public officers, loyal to the NNP, is still in their positions. These realities do not give honest Grenadians confidence that the atrocities will not happen again. After all it was this same Prime Minister that approved the appointment of Michael Creft as the chief regulator of the Offshore Banking Sector.
Grenadians are invited to read some of the investigative work done by Sandra Ferguson and the Citizens in Defense of Grenada’s Lands and Heritage. Their work shows clearly that the program was intended to benefit a few. Ambassador De Savory’s publication of his brochure shows clearly the complicity of the Government and the Prime Minister himself in utilizing this new legislation to pursue De Savary’s interest. Mind you, the brochure was published before the new Citizenship by Investment law was even tabled in the parliament.
Minister Boatswain stated that the funds derived from the program will be used to finance” Private investment or public-private partnership in order to create long term jobs’. Minister Modeste- Curwen said it was all about ‘paying the national debt’.
Both assertions cannot withstand serious scrutiny. De Savary and Bacolet Bay are no doubt using this new program to sell their real estate projects. The big question is “How will the state and by extension, ordinary Grenadians benefit? The agreement signed by the previous NNP administration provides a raft of exemptions from Corporate Tax, CET, Capital Gains Tax, Property Tax and Alien Land Holding Taxes. Imagine that for million dollar villas owed by these wealthy investors, property taxes are capped at EC$600.00 per year.
This clearly shows that only the ‘fine change’ will reach our Treasury. Mrs. Modeste –Curwen must remind herself that $1.2 billion dollars in debt cannot be paid with “fine change’. So too Mr. Boatswain will know this new CBI program will not provide the requisite capital to fund any serious investment program. It is not a prerequisite for investment as Sandals has shown. St Lucia has been able to attract investment in its hotel sector on a consistent basis over the last 25 years without selling their country’s passport.
Grenadians are still seeking answers on how the “Transformational Fund” will be managed. Given the NNP’S record in Government, we know only too well that the appointment of “Marketing Agent” will not be transparent and only their friends and cronies will enjoy that privilege.
The last sitting of the Senate shows clearly that the NNP is willing to doctor the truth in order to pull wool over the eyes of Grenadians. Minister Brenda Hood referred to a statement made by former Prime Minister Tillman Thomas that the visa restriction imposed by the Canadian government was as a result of our citizens “overstaying their time “in Canada.
The NNP senators refused to acknowledge that the Government of Canada website stated “Visitor visa restrictions were imposed on Grenada in December 2001, after increasing concerns with its Economic Citizens Program”.
It must be noted that Hon Tobias Clement raised some pertinent questions in respect to the future impact on land prices, property values and more importantly, the ability of locals to buy land in the future. The Prime Minister in response appeared annoyed at the observations made by Hon Clement. His thinly veiled arrogance showed its ugly head once again as this is just another case where NNP monopoly in the parliament is used to ride rough
shod on the nation.
God Help Us