If St Vincent and the Grenadines’ opposition NDP party were to win in the forthcoming election on November 5, it could mean the unveiling of yet another – the sixth – Caribbean-based Citizenship by Investment programme.
The Citizenship by Investment programme, which has been highly successful for five Caribbean countries, bringing necessary revenues to the countries’ coffers, has been heavily discussed in St Vincent and the Grenadines, which this week celebrated its 41st anniversary of political independence from Britain.
Discussions regarding the pros and cons of a CBI Programme have been ongoing between the Caribbean island’s two main political parties for a number of years, but one has yet to be launched.
One of the reasons it hasn’t yet materialised is that the current reigning government, the Unity Labour Party (ULP), which is under Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, and which has been in office for four consecutive terms, is against the concept of such a programme due to the party’s advocacy in defending both its national passport and its land.
In a recent message posted on his Facebook, PM Gonsalves said: “On November 5th, we will decide whether we should sell out our identity, our passports and our land.”
But while the current cabinet does not favour a CBI Programme, the leader of the opposition NDP party, Dr Godwin Friday, does and in the last few years has been pitching for one.
Dr Godwin Friday, who is leading the NDP for the first time into a general election, has even stated his party’s intention to create and launch a Citizenship by Investment Programme should the party get in.
In a presentation during the 2019 Budget, Dr Friday stated that under a CBI programme, education, infrastructure, sporting facilities and other major projects could benefit. Dr Friday cited the economic successes of Saint Kitts and Dominica and believes that the need for such a programme is more necessary than ever.
Saint Kitts & Nevis’ CBI Programme, the world’s most established and longest-running, contributes up to 35% of government revenue, while Saint Lucia’s CIP has contributed more than US$48 million to the country’s coffers since its launch just four years ago.
There are currently five Caribbean countries offering CBI Programmes – Saint Kitts & Nevis, Dominica, Saint Lucia, Antigua & Barbuda and Grenada – and for all five, the benefits have proven a lifeline, helping them to obtain development funds, boost economic growth and create jobs. The CBI industry jumped from 0% of regional GDP in 2007 to a weighty 5.1% in 2015.