Antigua considers offering economic citizenship
ST JOHN’S, Antigua, Thursday, October 11, 2012 – Antigua and Barbuda could join Dominica and St Kitts and Nevis as the only Caribbean nations to offer wealthy investors citizenship in exchange for them pumping significant capital into the economy.
Today (October 11),starts a series of public consultations on the Citizenship by Investment Programme being put forward by the Baldwin Spencer administration.
At a recent media briefing where Prime Minister Spencer and Members of the Citizenship by Investment Taskforce presented the details of the programme to the Antigua and Barbuda media as an avenue for the country’s future growth, it was projected that by the end of the third year, the programme could yield a gross investment in excess of EC $550 million.
The programme would be made available through four mechanisms: a real estate option, with the purchase of property with a minimum value of US$400,000 in a designated resort zone; a contribution of a minimum US$250,000 to a National Development Fund; a contribution of a minimum US$250,000 to a charitable fund; or a business investment of US $1.5 million.
Spencer said the Citizenship by Investment Programme was in keeping with the homegrown National Economic and Social Transformation (NEST) Plan, to revitalize the economy and stimulate growth.
"One strategy of economic development my government is seriously considering is a Citizenship by Investment programme. This programme, we believe, can be a tool to leverage our network of international relations and our physical and social attributes to attract resources for development from reputable individuals," the prime minister said.
He noted the poor global economic outlook; the focus of the developed countries on their own fiscal and economic sustainability; Antigua and Barbuda's high ranking, at 60 out of 187 on the Human development Index and the fact that Official Development Assistance to the country has plummeted by a reported 71 per cent, according to figures provided by the Antigua and Barbuda Investment Authority.
"We must endeavour to chart a course for greater self-determination which empowers us to more fully direct the pace, impact and outcomes of our development initiatives," Prime Minister Spencer said.
The Prime Minster said the CIP will promote economic growth; bolster job creation and fuel entrepreneurship; attract developments which create ongoing and sustained tax revenues and other forms of income; generate significant capital injection annually into the national economy; support the development of infrastructure; and ensure that nationals continue to have access to affordable lands through the zoning of lands available for the programme.
Taskforce member Lieutenant Colonel Edward Croft of the Office of National Drug and Money Laundering Control Policy (ONDCP), who also addressed the media, noted that the due diligence process is the most important pillar of the programme.
In addition to explaining how the process will work -- including the creation of a Citizenship by Investment Unit, which would work, in the development stages, with international partners -- Colonel Croft noted that consultations have begun with reputable firms desirous of representing Antigua and Barbuda, including Kroll, Ernst and Young, Bishops Services Incorporated and ISPA International Risk and Advisory Group.
Consultations will begin today at the Multipurpose Exhibition and Cultural Centre; and continue on October 15 at Cedar Grove Primary School; and October 16 at All Saints Primary School. All of the sessions begin at 7:30 pm. On October 18, there will be a live interactive programme on ABS Radio and TV, starting at 8:30 pm.