The Gaston Browne administration is being encouraged to publish a list of all those who have attained Antiguan and Barbudan citizenship through investment, as it recently did with those who hold diplomatic passports.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Disclosure Today – a Trinidad based non-governmental organization (NGO) — Rishi Maharaj said the public should know “exactly who has been accepted” otherwise the administration should say what benefit there is to withholding the information.
On the subject, President of the Transparency Institute of Guyana Dr Troy Thomas said the benefit to withholding that information should be “where there are security issues involved”.
“You have to ask ‘would it put somebody in danger’? But if you’re gaining citizenship by investment I don’t see the danger there except if you don’t want other people to know that you are doing so,” Dr Thomas said.
He also said that last week’s publication of the diplomatic passport holders list – a promise made in February – is “commendable and worth recognising” regardless of how late the action may have been. The list was published shortly after OBSERVER media made enquiries about it last week.
“It gives the public the opportunity to examine issues related to the list which could have a domino effect resulting in better administration of the diplomatic passport issue,” Dr Thomas added.
Both he and Maharaj were guests on Sunday’s Big Issues programme alongside John Anthony-Rullow – an advocate for “profound” constitution reform in his home country, Grenada.
Anthony-Rullow said it was “essential” for citizens in Caribbean countries where Citizenship by Investment Programmes (CIPs) exist to insist on knowing who is being made citizens of their countries. Anthony-Rullow has opposed the operation of a CIP in Grenada.
Antigua & Barbuda’s CIP was the subject of bad publicity this year when it was featured in a CBS’ 60 Minutes programme, when the United States (US) government called it “lax” and after Canada ceased its longstanding visa waiver arrangement for Antiguans and Barbudans due to concerns about the “integrity” of the Antigua and Barbuda passport.
Maharaj said given the bad publicity, it was paramount that a list of CIP citizens be published for all to see. He also said that citizens should use the Freedom of Information Act to compel the release of the information if it is not forthcoming.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)