The Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) could represent as much of 25 per cent of the country’s earnings this year, according to Prime Minister Gaston Browne.
Browne made the remarks at an economic citizenship conference hosted by the regulatory risk mitigation company IPSA International, in St Kitts & Nevis
“By the end of this year, in Antigua & Barbuda, the CIP programme will contribute in the region of 25 per cent in total revenues, revenues that will go towards funding the various sectors of our country’s economies, revenues that will be used for health care, for education, for infrastructure development, to market tourism,” Browne said.
“When I spoke about CIP being an export, the issue is what are we exporting, are we exporting passports? Of course not, we are exporting a service, a way of life,” he said.
Meanwhile, St Kitts & Nevis Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris promised to reform that country’s CIP programme.
IPSA International completed a programme review of the St Kitts and Nevis Citizenship by Investment Programme in the fourth quarter of 2014.
The organisation made 20 recommendations for improved governance, risk mitigation and compliance, all of which were accepted. These included the rollout of a case management tool to streamline the application management process within the Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU); changes to the CIU’s organisational structure to enhance processing capabilities and mitigate risk; an improved risk assessment process; and a review of previously approved applicants.
“Trust can be a scarce commodity, we may build and consolidate it with years of hard work only to lose it in an instance. When trust is squandered, regaining it can be difficult and lengthy. But the trust that attends this business has many components. As governments, it is incumbent on us to put in place the best regulatory frameworks to protect the system against abuse,” Dr Harris said.
The St Kitts & Nevis prime minister said the programme is essential to his country’s future.
“In St Kitts and Nevis, the CIP programme represents roughly 30-plus per cent of our annual revenue. Essentially it is a pillar in the foundation of this country’s unique future and prosperity, however these programmes may rise and fall on a simple ideal called trust as we all well know,” Dr Harris said.
The forum, hosted at the Ocean Terrace Inn, also attracted Dominica’s Ambassador-at-large Emmanuel Nanthan and other government and industry officials.