By Kieron Murdoch
The loss of visa-free access to Canada continues to haunt Antigua and Barbuda, according to the Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU). This is what eventually led to the need to slash the cost of citizenship by half.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne announced in Parliament on Thursday that citizenship under the National Development Fund (NDF) will soon be sold for U.S. $100,000.
OBSERVER media asked a CIU representative why the reduction was necessary. She replied that visa-free access to Canada was “the country’s most compelling advantage” and that since its rescission, investors are “forced to make a decision purely based on price.”
Meanwhile, Harold Lovell, Political Leader of the United Progressive Party (UPP) has again argued the programme should be halted and rebranded.
“Look at the areas where you’ve made mistakes and do everything possible to regain visa-free access to Canada,” he said adding, “We will soon hear that they are selling citizenship for U.S. $20,000. What will we say then? It will be the destruction of the programme.”
Lovell has said the loss of visa free access to Canada was “because of reckless actions by the government” that put the CIP “in dire straits.”
Currently, the lowest price for Antigua and Barbuda’s citizenship through the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) is the U.S. $200,000 asked for under the CIP’s NDF with additional diligence and processing fees. Grenada is the only other Caribbean island selling citizenship at U.S. $200,000 in addition to fees.
The CIU representative stated that “the market has determined that the most attractive amount is U.S. $100,000” and this is evidenced by a staggering 95 percent decline in NDF applications.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)