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Saturday, 16 October, 2021
HomeHeadlineANALYST SAYS ‘SHUT DOWN CIP’

ANALYST SAYS ‘SHUT DOWN CIP’

Political advisor and author Dr Isaac Newton yesterday came out forcefully, saying “shut it down” when asked what the government of Antigua & Barbuda should do with the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) after Canada abruptly pulled the plug on visa-free access to Antiguans and Barbudans.
He and several other analysts engaged in a heated debate on yesterday’s Big Issues and the parties were at odds on what should be done next.
Dr Newton said it was time for the Antigua Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) administration to close the programme which Prime Minister Gaston Browne suggested was the reason for Canada‘s decision which took effect on June 27.
The political advisor said, “We can either choose to keep it open and have it shut down permanently, or shut it down ourselves and try to rectify it. The people have to demand of their representatives to shut it down, and if they are not doing it then close down the government and the airport. I am that serious because this is about the image of Antigua & Barbuda,” Dr Newton said.
He said it was time for the people of the country to demand accountability of the CIP.
On June 26, Canada announced that from the next day Antiguans and Barbudans must acquire a visa from the Canadian Visa Application Centre in Trinidad & Tobago before flying to the North American country.
The Canadian authorities said, “After carefully monitoring the integrity of Antigua and Barbuda’s travel documents, the Government of Canada has determined that Antigua & Barbuda no longer meets Canada’s criteria for a visa exemption.”
Dr Newton stressed, “We have to get rid of this nonsensical, superlative folly that Antigua is a sovereign country operating in the sky. I am not upset, I am ‘rahtid’ with the folly taking place in Antigua & Barbuda, we have got to stop this blind politics and put things in place for the good of the country and the good of the region.”
Dr Newton was adamant that all the ideas should be looked at to see the best way forward in terms of earning revenue.
Political Analyst Alex Bruno said the power is in the hands of the people, but he noted that generally, Caribbean people, such as Antiguans & Barbudans, lack the tenacity to pressure the government to revamp the programme which is dubbed ‘selling of passports’.
“Citizens have the power to do everything and I believe the citizens of Antigua & Barbuda should demand of the government to take action to fix this problem. Some form of roll back is necessary, not an all-out suspension but a significant roll back and it must be seen as being done and being done upfront and in full view,” he said.
Bruno said while the leaders of the twin island are right in saying the country is sovereign and it has a right to do what’s necessary for the benefit of the nation, they “must think of other nations and the benefits when you are protecting your own benefits. With rights come responsibility.”
Meanwhile, Dominican Senator and IMF Economist Thomas Fontaine said the CIP will eventually come to an end because it is inherently unsustainable at its current rate. He dismissed the suggestion of another opposition party that a referendum should be held to determine whether to keep the programme.
He noted that visa-free access to Canada was a major attraction of the CIP for Antigua & Barbuda and that he believes other countries could follow suit with similar restrictions as imposed by Canada.
“Today or tomorrow [if] the Schengen visa is reversed, we are going to see a tremendous impact on the issuing of new passports. This will die a natural death with all of the scrutiny that is happening so I believe that the government needs to go out and find alternative means of making revenue,” the economist said.
The CIP has been a major revenue earner for Antigua & Barbuda since its inception in 2013. It was introduced by the now opposition United Progressive Party (UPP) which is now accusing the Gaston Browne led ABLP of mismanaging the programme and forcing Canada to change its stance on visa-free access for citizens of Antigua & Barbuda.

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