Dr. Ralph Gonsalves: ‘Citizenship, not a commodity for sale’

File photo of Dr. Ralph Gonsalves

Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, firmly believes that citizenship should not be for sale.

“The highest office in the land is that of citizen, higher than governor general, higher than prime minister, it’s not for sale,” Dr. Gonsalves stressed. “It’s not a commodity for sale, and the passport is the outward sign of the inward grace of citizenship, and that too is not for sale.”

These comments came from the Vincentian prime minister as he responded on OBSERVER AM to a question about how he views the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP).

It’s a position Dr. Gonsalves has held for years and his comments come at a time when other countries in the eastern Caribbean continue to face challenges with their programmes.

It also comes just as Antigua and Barbuda’s CIP improved in its ranking in a recent review of such programmes globally.

The Global Ranking for 2018 by Henley Passport Index has rated Antigua and Barbuda as number one in the OECS Citizen by Investment (CIP) territories, securing the 56th position in the world for its Quality of Citizenship.

The recent accomplishment is beneficial to the citizens of Antigua and Barbuda as it could mean increased financial contributions to its economy, resulting in improved quality of life, the 2018 report stated.

These first-class rankings and potential benefits still proved meaningless in changing the view of Gonsalves who strongly opposes the practice of the CIP.

“I have a disagreement with my colleagues in the OECS,” Gonsalves said as he repeated that he does not condone the CIP. “It’s a question of principle,” he added.

The Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) requires a person to make a significant economic contribution to the country in which they desire to become a citizen. In exchange, and subject to stringent application procedures, including thorough background checks, the applicants and their families are granted citizenship.