Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves remains unswayed on the issue of economic citizenship. (IWN photo)

St. Vincent and the Grenadines remains opposed to an economic citizenship programme even as St. Lucia became the latest Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) country to express interest in the initiative.

“It is my view that economic citizenship is a superficially attractive option,” Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves told a press conference on Monday.

“To me, The downside outweighs whatever money you can collect, the downside being whatever problems you may have, dealing with due diligence.

“I want to also indicate that in the   OECS or the Caribbean, once you have one country already which has taken the lead, others which are coming are unlikely to be able to get the kind of results,” he further said.

Prime Minister of St. Lucia, Kenny Anthony last month reported significant interest across the globe since Castries announced in March that it would be exploring possible introduction of an economic citizenship programme.

Gonsalves said St. Kitts and Nevis has  “jumped the queue”, having had an economic citizenship programme for years.

Antigua and Barbuda and Dominica also have economic citizenship programmes.

Gonsalves, however, said that apart from the practical questions relating to due diligence, he also has “a fundamental, philosophical objection to economic citizenship…

“I maintain that the highest office in the land is that of citizen. What binds us together is the bonds of citizenship, community of spirit with one another, and the accepted forms of citizenship, to me, are appropriate to our circumstances,” Gonsalves said.

He noted that currently persons become Vincentians through birth, descent, marriage to a Vincentian, naturalisation, and under a provision where someone has had a connection to the country for five years and has made a significant economic, social or cultural development to the country and is of sound character, understand what it means to be a citizen, and can write and speak the English language with a certain level of proficiency.

Gonsalves, defended his granting of citizenship to businessman Dave Ames of Buccament Bay Resort, saying this was not an economic citizenship.

Gonsalves said citizenship given to investors such as Dave Ames (pictured) is not economic citizenship. (IWN photo)
Gonsalves said citizenship given to investors such as Dave Ames (pictured) is not economic citizenship. (IWN photo)

He said Ames became a citizen in the same way that former prime minister, Sir James Mitchell, granted citizenship to Canouan investor Antonio Saladino.

Gonsalves, who has ministerial responsibility for citizenship, said the citizenship granted to these investors is not economic citizenship, because they were required to have a commitment to the country for several years up front and then consideration was given for citizenship.

The Prime Minister further said he has his doubts about the extent to which due diligence can be conducted under an economic citizenship programme.

“When anybody tells me that they do due diligence, I know how due diligence is being done, and to do due diligence for one or two investors or one or two persons who come in and seeking citizenship in one of the other ways, … you can manage the due diligence in those respects.

“But if you have a flood of applications, as you have in some jurisdictions for citizenship, you tell me you are doing the due diligence, I only smile, because I know you are going to get caught with several,” Gonsalves said.

“This is why in some jurisdictions you have all these complaints being made about this or that persons being associated with this or that criminal enterprise and so on and do forth,” he further said.

“For me, citizenship is not a commodity for sale, and the passport, which is a manifestation of the citizenship, what I call the outward sign of the inward grace of citizenship, is also not for sale.

“Now, that is my position, that is the position of the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

“Who wants to do economic citizenship, that is their business. If I am the last man standing with that, that is the position which I hold, and I happen to believe that that is the position of the vast majority of people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” Gonsalves said.

4 replies on “Gonsalves remains opposed to economic citizenship programme”

  1. Well, if he says it’s not a good thing to do then it is not a good thing to do. We did not “bathe in the first water”, so that’s it for economic citizenship. If it not good enough to lay on top of the table, we don’t expect that it is being done under the table because that will not be a good thing.

    So, what can we do? No economic citizenship. No integrity legislation. No two-term limit. No cross country road. No what else?

    But aahhhh, we have an airport. Actually, we will have two airports until the orderly transition is made. Then we have an empowered and motivated workforce thanks to the education revolution. Oh yeah. We’re coping. And look we just about to collect 6 point something US dollars. And that is only part of the 230 million dollars secured by the PM this year. That’s good!

  2. Hahah. This Gonsalves guy always make me laugh. So if it is not economic citizenship then what is it? Maybe it’s just a favor? Was the passing of money involved for that favor?. Every time The PM talk I laugh my belly full. The man is really something else.

  3. Peter Binose says:

    May I suggest that due diligence today is a very simple procedure. All banks and Finance Authorities have expert knowledge on procedure. They have computer programs that can compile reports on every aspect of an individual or company. They can find out more about a person than they know about themselves.

    You can find out about schooling, social standing in society, bankruptcy records, parentage, past convictions and other court cases. Financial records and company information regarding directorships and such like.

    I believe that Gonsalves failed to carry out due diligence reports on Dave Ames before he got our country into bed with him. Then after failing on that front he gave him an economic passport and citizenship.

    I believe that Gonsalves wants to produce a country of paupers and peasants. I believe that bringing in wealthy people into the citizenship creates two problems for him. One is that none of those type of people will ever vote for him. The second is that because of his political beliefs he does not want to import the bourgeoisie.

    Wealthy people coming to SVG as investors and large home owners will put money not just into the treasury. They will employ untold number of Vincentians and they will spend lots of money in Vincentian business’s. It will create employment which is more important than keeping out the bourgeoisie. Our people need work, they need to earn a living.

    If they stack up and prove to be good upright people after due diligence inspection, they can only bring fortune and employment to SVG. If they do not stack up and fail the test then they are rejected.

    So all the crap about who should have it and who shouldn’t is all rubbish. Ames for instance would of failed if I was testing him for due diligence, so waiting for five, or is it seven years, means nothing if you are not going to act on or carry out due diligence reports.

    For instance what sort of report would Ralph Gonsalves generate if he was applying for citizenship, would he be granted citizenship?

  4. Peter Binose says:

    May I suggest that due diligence today is a very simple procedure. All banks and Finance Authorities have expert knowledge on procedure. They can easily process a 100 a day applicants. They have computer programs that can compile reports on every aspect of an individual or company. They can find out more about a person than they know about themselves.

    You can find out about schooling, social standing in society, bankruptcy records, parentage, past convictions and other court cases. Financial records and company information regarding directorships and such like.

    I believe that Gonsalves failed to carry out due diligence reports on Dave Ames before he got our country into bed with him. Then after failing on that front he gave him an economic passport and citizenship.

    I believe that Gonsalves wants to produce a country of paupers and peasants. I believe that bringing in wealthy people into the citizenship creates two problems for him. One is that none of those type of people will ever vote for him. The second is that because of his political beliefs he does not want to import the bourgeoisie.

    Wealthy people coming to SVG as investors and large home owners will put money not just into the treasury. They will employ untold number of Vincentians and they will spend lots of money in Vincentian business’s. It will create employment which is more important than keeping out the bourgeoisie. Our people need work, they need to earn a living.

    If they stack up and prove to be good upright people after due diligence inspection, they can only bring fortune and employment to SVG. If they do not stack up and fail the test then they are rejected.

    So all the crap about who should have it and who shouldn’t is all rubbish. Ames for instance would of failed if I was testing him for due diligence, so waiting for five, or is it seven years means nothing if you are not going to act on or carry out due diligence reports.

    For instance what sort of report would Ralph Gonsalves generate if he was applying for citizenship, would he be granted citizenship?

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