Opposition senator Kay Bacchus-Baptiste has described as hypocritical the government’s granting of citizenship
and passport to non-nationals who invest in businesses here while the said government members have criticized
the Citizen By Investment (CBI) programme, refusing to implement saying citizenship and passport are not for sale.
The opposition senator’s accusation came as she made her contribution to the debate on the International
Business Companies (Amendment and Consolidated) Bill 2018 last week Thursday. She said she did not see the
IBC as being very different than the Citizen By Investment business and that it is a way that small islands have to
use to carve out revenue and that some years ago the offshore business was the way to go.
Speaking about the pressure brought by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)
and the European Union to have small islands amend their legislation to suit the EU’s tax regime in what is viewed
as a move that will cripple the IBC industry in the small islands, senator Bacchus-Baptiste told parliament: “I
remember when much money was made from it. And it’s the same thing they’re going to do with the CBI, Citizen By
Investment. We have to protect our industry and we have to find a way to deal with it.”
The opposition senator later stated: senator Bacchus-Baptiste stated.”When I say I see it as no different I mean
that to say on the one hand I support the International Business but I don’t support the CBI I think it’s hypocritical.”
Senator Bacchus-Baptiste said that persons who had offshore businesses here like Adrian Baron obtained
Vincentian passports and Dave Ames, whose business was not offshore, also got Vincentian passports.
“But I’m saying it is hypocritical on one hand to criticize it and then give out passports to non-Vincentians investing
and doing business here,” the opposition senator told parliament.
Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves who has expressed expressed strong views on the CBI programme stating that
citizenship is the highest office of the land and it’s not a commodity for sale and that the passport is the outward
sign of the inward grace of citizenship, and that that, too, is not for sale, rose in objection to the opposition senator’s
The Prime Minister said the two programmes are entirelely and that there are different regimes for granting
citizenship. He said one of them requires an investor to be resident in the country for at least seven years and have
a connection of some kind – whether it is to the business or something else. He said “that is the manner, as I recall,
in which Barron obtained his citizenship, not by selling a passport or selling it upfront.”
Dr Gonsalves said that in relation to Ames, under the Citizenship Act, which his government in place, “if you have
invested substantially in the country, you understand the English language and all the rest and so on and so forth,
and you are here for five years minimum you can get citizenship that way.That’s an entirely different matter than
Citizenship By Investment. I just want to point out the legal difference,” the Prime Minister said.
Senator Bachus-Baptiste, however, responded: “Be that as it may, a distinction without much of a difference in
actual fact. That’s my opinion and the opinion of a lot of persons.”
The International Business Companies (Amendment and Consolidated) Bill 2018, was passed with the support of the opposition New Democratic Party .