By Kadeem Joseph
Should the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) emerge victorious in the next general election, the party is not only adamant that it will abolish the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) but plans to introduce a tax on the wealthy to fill the gap.
During an Observer AM interview on Tuesday, founding member of the DNA, Anthony Stuart, queried the true economic value of the lucrative programme to Antigua and Barbuda compared to the benefits they get as citizens.
“The passport they would have purchased would have given them the opportunity, especially those in business, because these persons are persons with extreme wealth, to expand their businesses throughout certain parts of the world that hitherto they would not have been able to do,” he said, noting that residents have to share the major tax burden of the country.
Stuart said the DNA would introduce what it has dubbed “a mega wealth tax” targeting rich people who accessed citizenship through CIP and other wealthy citizens both here and in the diaspora to fill the fiscal gap that the abolition of CIP would create.
He suggests that certain assets such as property, which is already subject to a direct tax, would be exempt from the levy of one percent on an individual’s net wealth.
“We are only asking that individual, who loves Antigua and Barbuda and who might be saying in their mind, ‘you know what, the middle class and the lower class has always carried this country, we are going to make that contribution of one percent’,” he explained.
During his 2022 Budget Speech presentation, Prime Minister Gaston Browne said, “Total revenues generated by the CIP programme for the year 2021 amounted to $123.1 million and helped to cushion the adverse effects of declining government revenues from other sources.”
He said the monies collected were mainly used in the fight against Covid-19.
The DNA representative said that the time has come for “more even” contributions to the tax base.
“Because you know the indirect taxes that we pay are regressive in nature, where persons who earn less pay much more of their income at the end of the day in taxes,” he added.
While the party has not yet pegged the proposed tax to a solid threshold, Stuart stresses that the target will be the “mega wealthy” as the party continues to consult on the matter.