EDITORIAL: Inconsequential

Prime Minister Gaston Browne has dismissed the recent report from Professional Wealth Management (PWM), which happens to be a publication of the Financial Times. He has declared that the report is inconsequential and boldly proclaimed “It doesn’t matter, we are still number one.” He also forecasted, “In the next ranking three or four months from now we can be number one,” adding, “Nothing turns on that.” It is an interesting stance to take when seeking to defend against the ranking of our Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) by a globally respected media organisation. The ranking, by the way, was a respectable fourth, and mirrors our ranking from the previous year.

The PM’s reaction is just more evidence that we live in an age of dismissive politics. Don’t like what you hear? Shoot the messenger. Dismissing the reporting is always so much easier than addressing the issues raised. In this case, the report in question is 35 pages, filled with the authors’ reasonings and fairly clear details of the methodologies utilised to come to the conclusions. We will post it on antiguaobserver.com for easy reference.

Again, this is a report published by the very well-respected Financial Times and we dare say that when it comes to deciding global rankings, we have to believe that prospective CIP applicants will put a lot of faith into that publication versus our ‘we are the best because we say so’ declaration. And that perspective is really the crux of our confusion as to why the PM would be so dismissive of the report instead of addressing the perceptions of the authors or the real issues at hand that keep us from the number one ranking. It seems that we could be better served leveraging our current ranking while addressing the misperceptions or errors that may exist in the report.  

The 2018 CBI Index is described as A Guide to Global Citizenship. It is in its second year of publication and it “ranks and reviews today’s active citizenship by investment programmes.” This year, the report ranks 13 CBI programmes including: Antigua and Barbuda, Austria, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Cyprus, Dominica, Grenada, Jordan, Malta, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, Turkey, and Vanuatu.  According to the report’s authors, their “primary methodological objective was to isolate factors that could satisfactorily measure programme features and jurisdictional desirability.”  To fulfill that objective, seven factors, or ‘pillars’, were identified: Freedom of Movement; Standard of Living; Minimum Investment Outlay; Mandatory Travel or Residence; Citizenship Timeline; Ease of Processing; Due Diligence.

Each factor is clearly defined and then an analysis is presented along with a score for each territory. Overall, it is a transparent, well-defined methodology that logically presents its results for scrutiny. We suggest that most readers will be comforted by the presentation and analysis and will probably value the findings.  As such, they will likely be influenced by the report and as such, it certainly cannot be considered inconsequential. Plus, remember, unless proven otherwise, the Financial Times is considered to have ‘no skin in the game’ so people will accept the report as being independent and objective.  

No matter how you feel about the CIP, please take the time to read the report. It is always interesting to know how outsiders view our bit of paradise and the things that we do. This, however, is not an analysis or critique of the report or our rankings in each of the areas identified in the ranking methodology. Those we have little influence on unless we address them directly or we address the perception of those doing the analysis. And that is our point. 

Why dismiss the report out of hand and fool ourselves into believing that it is inconsequential when we can address the issues identified and maybe create relationships with the authors and the Financial Times? If our CIP is the best, then demonstrate that to our critics and make some lemonade out of the bag of lemons placed on our table. It does not help our CIP’s reputation when we just put a “fake news” label on the report. We know that is the easy response but it is lazy and does not help. 

People shopping for a place to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in a citizenship programme will be more comfortable with a jurisdiction that addresses issues, real or perceived, than a jurisdiction that dismisses a report that ranks it as fourth. Maybe it is the fact that we were bested by our neighbours that has the PM so upset but the resolution is to determine where they bested us and turn it around so we top the next report. 

For the record, Dominica came in first with top scores in five out of the seven pillars analysed even with the authors acknowledging that several Caribbean nations fell in the rankings relative to 2017 due to administrative delays following the hurricane season. Considering Dominica’s experience with hurricanes last year, they probably deserve some applause for that finish. Rounding out the top three were St. Kitts and Nevis (2nd) and Grenada (3rd).  

We know that if this report had ranked us as first, it would would be hailed as a masterpiece but because it didn’t, it is essentially inconsequential ‘fake news’. That label makes it hard to hold it up as something great if we ever make the number one position, but maybe if we play our cards right, we can rise to the top and hypocritically heap praise on its fairness.

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