Gov't dismisses Canada's visa requirement as 'molehill'

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Prime Minister Gaston Browne is refuting allegations by the opposition United Progressive Party (UPP) that his government has mismanaged the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP).
He says it was his administration that improved the security of the programme which is now being blamed for the Canadian government imposing visa requirements for nationals of Antigua & Barbuda.

The prime minister says his administration was also the one to introduce a list of countries that were restricted from participating in Antigua & Barbuda’s CIP.

However, the opposition UPP says the prime minister and his colleagues have been micromanaging and mismanaging the programme and says they have killed the goose that has been laying the golden egg.
Currently, the economy of Antigua and Barbuda depends heavily on the CIP which was introduced in 2013 during the tenure of the now opposition UPP.
The UPP faced much public criticism for the CIP  and there was an internal rift that resulted in the sacking of senators back in 2013 when the law was being debated and some senators refused to back it.
The UPP pushed through the legislation and at that time, the names of all CIP investors had to be made public and they were required to be in Antigua for 35 days to be allowed to invest.
The ABLP amended the law so the names would be concealed and the residency requirement was brought down to five days.
Since the ABLP has been in office, at least three female Chinese C-I-P investors have been named in wrongdoing, their passports were revoked and at least two of those three had matters before the court with the government.
It is in wake of these developments, the Citizenship by Investment Programme has been widely criticised and as of June 27, Antiguans and Barbudans no longer enjoy visa free travel to Canada due to security concerns.
The prime minister says it is not a big deal.

And, his Attorney General Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin agrees, even in face of the negative impact the change has already had on scores of residents who have already booked flights and Antiguan and Barbudan students who are studying in Canada.

Both the attorney general and the prime minister were speaking on the opposition aligned ZDK radio Tuesday night.

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