Editorial: Good news and bad news

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First the good news. According to a Henley and Partners (residence and citizenship planners) report, our Citizenship by Investment destination is the very best in the Caribbean, and the fourth best in the world behind Malta, Cyprus and Austria. The islands of Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia and Dominica trail us. That rather encouraging assessment was contained in the most recent Global Residence and Citizenship Programmes report by the aforementioned Henley and Partners. And the encouraging news did not end there. Seems, we scored highly in the 10 indicators on their metric. Not only did we score a total of 61 out of 100 on the Global Citizenship Programme index, but we did rather well in the areas of “Reputation, quality of life, visa-free access, processing time, quality of processing, compliance, financial requirements, residence requirements, relocation flexibility, physical visit requirements and transparency.”  Hmm! Not bad!
Seems, notwithstanding the frenetic predictions of its demise and the ‘doom and gloom’ prophesies that our Citizenship by Investment Programme was on its death bed, our programme is ‘alive.’ 
Apparently, never mind the dire predictions of the “the nattering nabobs of negativism,” (U.S. vice-president Spiro Agnew), we cannot yet write CIP’s epitaph. Indeed, as Mark Twain would say, “Reports of its death have been greatly exaggerated.”
Nonetheless, as you will note in the preceding paragraph, we declared that the CIP programmes is ‘alive.’ We never
said anything about it being ‘well.’ And therein lieth the rub; therein lieth the bad news. Never mind the flattering Henley and Partners report, which we presume that a CIP shopper might peruse in the course of his or her due diligence, no one is buying. Indeed, the prime minister, earlier this year, expressed his disappointment at the paucity of comers. The National Development Fund has had only three applications in the last government report, and that resulted in a paltry U.S. $600,000 in the kitty.
So what gives? Why aren’t there more applicants for our programme? Is it a case of market saturation? The fear of increased scrutiny from destinations like the United States under the tough immigration positions adopted by President Donald Trump? The loss of our visa-free access to Canada? The realisation that we will be in for a rough time each year, what with the increasingly violent storms that are predicted for our region as a result of climate change? Bad news on the crime front? A perception, real or imagined, of government hostility to investors? And so on and so forth? The poor investment response to our CIP product could be the result of any number of reasons. Indeed, it could be a combination of all of the above. And we are calling on the folks who are experts in these matters to look into the dearth of CIP applicants.
Meanwhile, whatever the reason, the case of our ‘alive-but-not-so-well’ CIP programme is a cautionary tale. To use a cliché, we clearly cannot “put all our eggs in the CIP basket!” It would be foolhardy so to do!  Our economic planners must come up with new and innovative strategies to spur economic growth. The path to a sound financial footing does not run solely through CIP. This programme was not, and never will it be, the panacea for all that ails us. We here at Observer media were never really enarmoured with the programme, even under the former United Progressive Party administration, because, for one thing, we thought that it was a willful and wanton selling of our patrimony. And we saw the potential for abuse as well as a whole host of other unintended consequences. But “the ayes” had it, and CIP was ushered in with much fanfare.
There is no need for anyone to say, “I told you so, “We told you so,” but the ‘good news and bad news’ state of our CIP is certainly a mixed bag that should keep our financial planners awake at night. After all, notwithstanding the rosy enticements, not many persons are availing themselves of the opportunity to become citizens of “The land that floweth with milk and honey” and the “Economic powerhouse.” But wait. The CIP was supposed to be one of the pillars in the building of the “powerhouse.” Talk about a conundrum!     
We invite you to visit www.antiguaobserver.com and give us your feedback on our opinions.

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