The United Progressive Party (UPP) is concerned about the revenue that Antigua and Barbuda stands to lose if the United Kingdom (UK) shuts down visa-free access by regional countries that offer Citizenship by Investment Programmes (CIP).
The Commonwealth of Dominica found itself on the unfortunate side of history by becoming the first such country whose passport- holders will have to apply for an entry visa.
That decision was taken amidst concerns by the British Government that – because of the various programes – the UK’s security is under threat.
Since then, there has been speculation that holders of Antigua and Barbuda passports could face a similar fate, resulting in the loss of income.
Persons seeking a second citizenship found Antigua and Barbuda attractive because of the visa-free access it provided to Canada, the United Kingdom, and Europe’s Schengen area. However, the CIP has lost some appeal since Canada imposed entry restrictions.
Should the UK close the door on us, says UPP Chairman D. Gisele Isaac, then the country – which is already struggling financially –will find itself undergoing greater economic hardship.
Isaac notes that the Browne Administration has used CIP funds tosettle many of its debts, including those related to the Alfa Nero superyacht. It has been paying out US$28,000 a week in salaries and maintenance of the crew and must do so until the sale transaction is completed.
Isaac describes the CIP as a “slush fund,” since, for years, there hasbeen no public accounting for the entity’s income or spending. Whenthe Administration loses this revenue source, she says, then the lostincome will have to be replaced from somewhere and somehow –most likely from taxes.
Accordingly, she envisages that the cost of living will soon soar in Antigua and Barbuda.
In light of allegations that the Government has defaulted on the Port Authority loan from the Chinese, the UPP chairman recalls that it was after – and not during – a Budget Presentation that the hand- over of the cruise industry was revealed, along with the state of the cruise port loan.
Accordingly, she is fearful that such a takeover of the Port Authority could occur if the Administration is unable to service its borrowings of US$98 million.
Isaac is also curious to learn what the Browne Administration willdo to cushion, or stop, any financial fallout from new restrictions onthe CIP.
Objectively, she says, she does not think that Antigua and Barbudawill escape the imposition of UK visas, and she references thenumber of scandals that have been associated with the less-than“stellar citizens” who have obtained our CIP passports.