Monday, April 22, 2024

PEOPLE & THINGS: Barbados citizenship for sale!


Share post:

“Barbados does not subscribe to the concept of economic citizenship, and pursues a policy of not granting such status to non-nationals in return for financial contributions or economic benefits. The legislation should therefore be amended to reflect this . . . . The Barbados Citizenship Act should be amended to state that under no circumstances will such citizenship be granted.” – Comprehensive Review of Immigration Policy And Proposals For Legislative Reform (2009).
It is tempting to commence this article by making reference to the Prime Minister’s recent remarks about the need to “consider the issue of economic citizenship” and to suggest that those of us who heard this statement must have been dreaming.
Such an opening statement would make light of yet another fundamental deviation from the Democratic Labour Party’s (DLP) principles and moreover revive memories of a dream that an old lady had on a bus just prior to the 2013 election.
Sadly, this was no dream. It was an honest expression of a modern-day Prime Minister who perhaps has paid too little attention to the principles that his organization articulated just five years ago. Ironically, I might well be closer to the Prime Minister on this issue than several others as I am quite liberal on these issues and believe that the time might come where we might need to consider getting into this type of business.
The sale of citizenship sounds quite profane at first blush, but it has become a popular option for developing countries with little else that is tangible to trade in. In counties like Dominica, Grenada and more recently St Kitts, citizenship and passports have been sold in schemes that require the new citizen to invest heavily in the country offering citizenship. As such, it appears to be a win-win situation since the investor gets to enjoy the benefits of citizenship relatively quickly, while the country benefits from an injection of cash and/or other investment which can generate jobs and related economic activity.
Interestingly enough, schemes that could be considered “second cousins” of economic citizenship are also available in countries like Barbados where the sale of passports is heavily frowned upon.
In the United States, the EB-5 Visa is a method by which persons who have either US$500 000 or US$1 million to spend on job creation can obtain a Green Card. Similarly in Barbados, investors are entitled to “immigrant status” upon the payment of a nominal fee which seems to imply that we focus on the size of the investment and not the size of the application fee.
Critics of economic citizenship are quick to make the point that these types of schemes offered in the United States and Barbados use investment as a basis for application for a status that allows the individual to reside and work in the country, which might later lead to citizenship.
In these situations, the approval of an application to live and work is not automatic and thereafter the investor is still an “immigrant” or “resident alien”. He/she must rely on his/her substantive citizenship to travel to third countries and cannot vote or pass citizenship to a spouse or children. Economic citizens, on the other hand, really only need to invest money and could technically pick up their passports here, as they would a box of Chefette chicken, and need not actually live in the country thereafter.
There is clearly considerable fodder for a mature discussion on this issue in Barbados. However, it is equally clear that the position of the DLP is “pellucid” and “diametrically opposed” to the sale of our passport. It is therefore quite shocking that our Prime Minister would have promised to consider this issue a few weeks ago.
One immediately wonders what motivated him to raise this potentially contentious issue that his party spoke to in clear and unambiguous terms in its first (and last) comprehensive policy pronouncement since taking office in 2008.
It is entirely possible that the DLP has had a change of heart that was inspired by the reported success of the St Kitts programme, or perhaps the Prime Minister simply forgot his party’s stated position, but either way it boggles the mind that the reasons for this radical shift in policy are yet to be articulated, especially as we are well known to be sensitive on this issue.
It now appears that our passport might follow in yet another perversion of traditional DLP principles.
• Peter W. Wickham is a political consultant and a director of Caribbean Development Research Services (CADRES).


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related articles

Nicki Minaj throws item back into crowd after nearly getting hit by object onstage

Nicki Minaj was left unimpressed after a fan threw an object at her onstage. In a video shared by Pop Crave on...

Tesla cuts prices in major markets as sales fall

Tesla has cut its prices again in a number of major markets - including the US, China and...

Caribbean Export boosts businesses

BUSINESSES IN Barbados were among the beneficiaries as the Caribbean Export Development Agency, which is based here, facilitated...

Denny says Govt should not buy property

NSTEAD OF GOVERNMENT INTENDING to spend an estimated $8 million of tax payers’ money to buy part of...