Grenada’s economic citizenship scheme in doubt
ST GEORGE ‘S, Grenada, Thursday, March 8, 2012 – Plans by the Grenada Ministry of Finance to implement a new economic citizenship scheme could be delayed indefinitely due to doubts in the government camp.
Reports are that just days before the presentation of the 2012 budget, an initiative called Grenada Individual Investor Program (GIIP) is being revisited by ministry of finance officials after the idea allegedly did not receive the approval of a majority of Cabinet members who recently met to discuss the program.
However, Information Minister, Senator Glen Noel, has insisted that the proposed revenue-generating initiative has not been shelved permanently.
He stated that Cabinet members decided to put the implementation of the programme on hold while consultation is held on whether Grenadians approve of GIIP.
The country was expecting to generate millions of dollars under GIIP as Finance Minister Nazim Burke had promoted the programme as an initiative that could "increase the revenue base for the country, increase employment generation," and provide an "additional source of foreign exchange for Grenada."
The country is facing a budget deficit estimated to be about EC$100 million.
However, detractors have pointed to echoes of the failed “passport-selling’’ Economic Citizenship Programme of the New National Party (NNP) government of former Prime Minister Keith Mitchell in the GIIP structure.
The NNP program, which allowed successful applicants to secure Grenadian passports, is said to have contributed to the party’s 2008 general election defeat, and led to Canada’s inclusion of Grenadians on a list of foreign nationals who now require visas to enter that country.
In a series of media appearances in late February, Minister Burke acknowledged that there is likely to be “a lot of national anxieties” about GIIP because of the failed economic citizenship program of the NNP.
But he was confident that GIIP, once approved by government, could “bring substantial benefits to Grenada if it is well designed; if it is properly managed; if it is well implemented.”
Burke said GIIP “provides an opportunity to expand the national economy; to increase the revenue base for the country; to increase employment generation; and is an additional source of foreign exchange for Grenada.”
The 2012 budget, which was rescheduled from its expected January presentation, will be delivered on Friday (March 9) by Burke, who is also minister of planning, economic development, cooperatives and energy.