Editorial: Confusion at home can only mean confusion away

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We would like to begin by thanking Thomas Anthony, the former Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU), for coming to the nation’s aid and attempting to shed some light on the perceived discrepancies in the various CIU reports.  Mr Anthony’s explanations are certainly welcomed in the information void that exists.  We had hoped that CIU Financial Controller Casford King would have followed-up with some answers directly from the unit but, unfortunately, that did not materialise.
That aside, the reporting issue has raised a number of questions that, upon reflection, may have played a part in the decision of the Canadians to revoke our long-standing, visa-free travel status.  Just think, if there was confusion at home and the CIU was unable to provide immediate answers to the q­­­uestions posed, then you can well imagine that the Canadians would have been equally, if not more, confused by the reports and probably wondered what was going on?
We will take the time to review the reports in light of the explanation given by Mr Anthony but there were some other issues that came to the fore as a result of his explanation that need proper ventilation.  According to Anthony, “An application can be a single person, or a family. So you can have two people, four people, six people, and we have seen up to 13 people in a family on one application.  So if that application of let’s say 10 people is approved then necessarily 10 passports will come out of that one application.”
To give you a better understanding, let’s turn to the CIU’s website (cip.gov.ag) for an explanation of how this all works.  We are quoting the National Development Fund (NDF) option but the same rules apply through all options (as it relates to categories).  The site states, “Acquisition of citizenship under the NDF investment option requires a contribution to the National Development Fund in the minimum sum of US$200,000 per application. The contribution is in the form of a one-time payment.”  It continues, “The primary applicant may include spouse, dependent children and dependent parents over 65 years of age within the application with no additional NDF contribution required, although government and due diligence fees will be payable per each individual which are outlined within the fees section.”
That is not all, the former Deputy Chief Executive Officer said that there is no upper limit as to how many can be from a single application, as long as they fit the categories.  That got us to thinking about how the intent of the programme may face some challenges when cultures and religions collide.   You will have to humour us as we play devil’s advocate for a moment.
It is very likely that the word spouse is deliberately singular in the categories list as it reflects the traditional monogamous relationship that is the foundation of marriage and family in our (majority) Christian belief system.  How, then, does that reconcile with another culture that accepts and practices  polygamous relationships?  What if a man has several wives and many children?  That would, naturally increase the number of grandparents as well.  With no clear definition that we are talking about a single spouse, a single US$200,000 could deliver a good many passports if approved.
You may feel confident that this is all addressed in the law but it is not.  There is only a definition of “dependent” which, according to the act, means,  “a spouse of the main applicant.”  Take no comfort that it references “a spouse” because this is only a definition.  A dependent is also, “a child of the main applicant or his or her spouse who is less than eighteen years of age.”
In the example given by Mr Anthony, 13 persons formed a family on a single application.  If that application was approved, that would work out to be about US$15,000 per citizenship/passport.  Seems cheap, wouldn’t you say?  Wait!  No one wants “cheap” associated with their citizenship or passport so let’s say “affordable”.
If there is an immediate lesson to be learned, it is that the Government needs to be more forthcoming with information on important issues such as these.  Being transparent and pushing the information to the people will reduce the chances that they become confused or misinformed.  Proactive rather than reactive.  There is also a lesson surrounding consistent reporting that is obvious; or at least we hope it is.

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