NDP maintains policy on CBI programme

NDP maintains policy on CBI programme

The opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) is maintaining its policy position to implement the Citizenship By Investment (CBI) programme if elected to office in the next general elections constitutionally due in December 2020.
NDP president Dr. Godwin Friday reiterated his party’s position on Wednesday 31st October 2018 when he appeared on the OMG in the Morning interactive programme hosted by Dwight ‘Bing’ Joseph and aired on BOOM 106.9 FM.
Dr. Friday was responding to a question by Joseph about the recent blacklisting by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) of countries in the Caribbean which has established the CBI programme which poses a high risk to the OECD’s Common Reporting Standard (CRS).
Joseph’s question came weeks after the Paris-based OECD blacklisted the Caribbean countries claiming that they threaten international efforts to combat tax evasion.
“While residence and citizenship by investment (CBI/RBI) schemes allow individuals to obtain citizenship or residence rights through local investments or against a flat fee for perfectly legitimate reasons, they can also be potentially misused to hide their assets offshore by escaping reporting under the OECD/G20 Common Reporting Standard (CRS). In particular, Identity Cards and other documentation obtained through CBI/RBI schemes can potentially be misused abuse to misrepresent an individual’s jurisdiction(s) of tax residence and to endanger the proper operation of the CRS due diligence procedures,” The OECD report stated.
Responding to Joseph’s question, Dr. Friday stated: “What it says to me is that the programmes they have to be of the highest integrity that you have to maintain, they have to be of the highest standard.”
The Leader of the Opposition said European countries are the largest such programmes in the world and the programme in the Caribbean countries are fairly small. He said that for example; the US with the EB-5 programme issues over 10,000 visas per annum while a small Caribbean country like St Kitts and Nevis, which has been operating the CBI programme since the 1980s, has issued around 10,000 – 12,000 passports. He said that when the scale is looked at it seems the Caribbean countries’ participation is inflated.
“Now, what it says to me is that any concerns that are raised obviously have to be taken seriously because there are impacts that would seriously affect, not just the administration of the programme but, you know, a country in general,” Dr. Friday said.
Dr. Friday said it would not be good for such thing to happen because there are a number of cruise ship workers who, to make it easier to get to the cruise ships, travel to certain destinations, for example.
“So, we’ll want to protect them. So what it says to me that the concerns that are raised by those countries mean that the programmes you have to be very, very careful on how you implement them and how you administer them, not just at the outset but consistently throughout and to take all measures necessary to improve them,” Dr Friday said.
The opposition leader referred to a situation in St Lucia where citizenship was granted to two or three persons but was subsequently revoked after authorities found out that the persons were involved in transactions which were likely to bring the country into disrepute.
“So, that’s an action that can be taken. That’s a corrective action; not necessarily to say that the programme should be scrapped for that. You are taking corrective action, you’re not encouraging the misuse of the programme. Where there are corrective actions to be taken. you take them,” Dr. Friday said.
Asked if, despite the blacklisting of countries, including those in the Eastern Caribbean, and the challenges, his party will go ahead with its policy position, the NDP president replied: “Yes, we are. Because we believe, I mean no one has said these programmes are in any way illegal or illicit.”