KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – Who the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) meets with and what it discusses with them is the party’s business and has nothing to do with Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves.
This was the view of Opposition Leader, NDP President Arnhim Eustace this week in response to statements by Gonsalves that the NDP leadership met with its financiers in Antigua two weeks ago and promised them to reinstate an economic citizenship programme here.
“… the New Democratic Party has the right to have any meeting, anytime, anywhere with any group we decide we want to meet,” Eustace said on radio.
He, however, said that the party is still open to reinstate the economic and honorary citizenship programme that was discontinued when Gonsalves’ Unity Labour Party administration came to office in 2011.
He said that the NDP would decide what to disclose to the public “in due course”.
“That is not for the Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to determine. It is not his business. … We choose our relationships and we discuss what we have to discuss. That is our right. … We have no obligation to provide the Prime Minister with any information about what we discussed. I don’t ask him what he discussed,” Eustace said.
Eustace said that the United States, Canada, other Caribbean nations and countries across the world have economic citizenship programmes that are similar to the one his party advocates.
The aim, he said, is to woo bona fide investors to a particular country while ensuring that due diligence prevent “scamps” from being accepted.
“Once you can satisfy yourself with that, you should be able to manage such programmes. … What we have to be careful about is that we have the kinds of arrangements in place where we can look closely into the background of such people before accepting them.”
Eustace said that St. Kitts and Nevis, which has an economic citizenship programme, has been able to finance a lot of project there despite their large national debt, which is almost twice that nation’s GDP.
He noted the potential benefits of such a programme adding that a country with such a programme must also determine what fees its economic citizens pay to help fund government initiatives.
“It is not something we have overlooked. We have examined it and if we feel that it can be done, and we can benefit from it, the Prime Minister can talk as he continues to cause the decline in the financial situation in this country to the point now we can’t pay our day-to-day bills,” Eustace said one week after telecommunications company LIME disconnected many of the government’s telephone lines because of non-payment.