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It was listed as item number 5 in this past week’s Cabinet notes, and it did exactly what it was designed to do – be syrupy sweet. As we are all so very painfully aware, these are extremely difficult economic times, and this government’s willful waste in times of plenty, have quickly become woeful want. We are now up the proverbial ‘doodie’ creek without a paddle.

Clearly, it was going to be ‘any port in a storm,’ and this desperate administration promptly grasped at the Barbados Welcome Stamp idea, a 12-month visa that allows foreigners to work from the beaches and sun-drenched dales of Bimshire. It was an offer of escape from the cramped apartments, the boring suburban homes, and the Covid-gripped cities from which they hail. After all, there really is nothing like sipping a margarita or a rum punch while glued to a computer screen, at the very spot where one will then frolic in the balmy Caribbean waters. There is nothing quite like basking in the afterglow of a day well spent, as Phoebes’ chariot ends its daily journey across the heavens in a splash of red and orange hues. We suggest that those who work remotely from places like Barbados, Bermuda, Mauritius, the Cayman Islands, Aruba and our very own Antigua, are living the dream.

Anyway, we quickly followed in the footsteps of Barbados by announcing our own NOMAD DIGITAL RESIDENCE (NDR) program. That allowed foreigners to live and work here for up to two years. While we chuckled at the ‘me-too-ism’ of our administration, we recognised the NDR as a good way to raise funds for our battered economy. After all, we were going to further monetise some of our greatest resources – sun, seawater, sand and the friendly disposition of Antiguans and Barbudans. Our relatively low crime rate is also a plus. We felt that there would be more than a few takers.

        But after the grand launch of the NDR towards the end of September, we have yet to hear how the program is faring. We’re talking about the actual numbers of those who have applied, been approved and taken up, or will soon, take up residence.  We heard, by way of this week’s Cabinet notes, that interest has been high, and that several foreigners have availed themselves of the wonderful opportunity to work in this blessed country “where land and sea make beauty.” Alas, there were no raw numbers. In fact, the Cabinet notes appeared to be quite vague: The Cabinet was informed by the Minister of Tourism that inquiries into the Digital Nomad program has been high and that several Americans, Canadians and Britons have utilised the program. Daily inquiries exceed five on average, and the numbers who have shown an interest has continued to rise.” “Several?” What is “several?” “Interest?” What does “interest” mean in real dollars-and-cents terms? It is anyone’s guess. Sigh!

It’s just another day of sweet-sounding fluff in paradise.

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