The government said it is too early to determine what negative impact, if any, Canada’s imposition of visa restrictions on citizens of Antigua & Barbuda will have on the nation’s Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP).
During Thursday’s post-Cabinet briefing, Minister of Information Melford Nicholas told the media that while he cannot say that Canada’s decision will not have an impact on the lucrative CIP, “the fallout is not a known factor”.
He said, however, the revenues from the CIP have been gradually decreasing and talks are afoot to improve the performance and promotion of the programme.
“The question of whether or not there is going to be a net fallout … only time will tell,” he said, adding that a number of factors affect the performance of the economic citizenship programme.
“There is more than one string being pulled. There is going to be increased promotion [and] we have changed the incentive programmes for the suppliers and the combination of those two plus the loss of visa free entry will result in the particular performance,” he explained.
Nicholas also maintained that free entry to Canada was not the only feature that made Antigua & Barbuda’s CIP attractive.
However, government’s chief of staff Lionel “Max” Hurst said that the new level of scrutiny by Canada will not cause the country to lose “a significant portion of the income which the CIP garnered”.
Hurst made specific reference to Dominica, which lost visa free travel to the North American country in the early 2000s, stating that the land of many rivers “earns far more resources through its CIP programme than Antigua & Barbuda ever did”.
Dominica, however, has drastically reduced the cost of its economic citizenship programme to a $100,000 contribution to the Dominica Fund in order to remain competitive.
Since then, political pundits have been warning regional governments not to get caught in the “race to the bottom”.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)
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