It is indeed a great pleasure for me to be here and to be given the opportunity to speak to you and to launch what the United Progressive Party Administration believes is an initiative which has the potential to transform the economic landscape of Antigua and Barbuda.
However, I must first express the gratitude and commendation of the Government to the members of the CIP Task Force, who, two years ago took up the challenge, contributed considerable time and energy and examined the best strategic options available to support investment and residential tourism, examine the business benefits which can come with economic citizenship, identify risks and necessary safeguards that should be in place to maintain the integrity of the Antigua and Barbuda passport and among other things, establish an institutional framework to manage the programme.
The Government commends you as patriotic Antiguans and Barbudans for the sterling contributions you have made in bringing us to the point where we are today.
I would just like to briefly outline the long and winding road traveled by the Task Force since their appointment in June of 2011. This is to demonstrate that this initiative is not a fly-by-night programme and the considerable amount of thought and planning that has gone into its realization.
Since the appointment of the Task Force, they have held consultations across this country.
- They have held meetings with stakeholders
- Radio and Television discussions
- Publish a White Paper on the programme
- Consulted with key international stakeholders who have years of experience in Citizenship by Investment Programmes; and might I add, that the Task Force has functioned without any political interference.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
For over two years, the UPP Administration has worked on ensuring that the Citizenship by Investment Programme which we are launching today can maintain its integrity and stand up to scrutiny.
This evening, I wish to highlight a quote taken from an interview on CNN with a spokesperson for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, and I quote:
“Our goal is certainly job creation, and that is what this programme is all about. At the same time, it’s allowing somebody from a foreign country to come and invest in our nation.” End of quote.
While the United States Citizenship by Investment Programme differs slightly to Antigua and Barbuda’s, the offerings remain the same, in that the investor becomes a citizen of the United States and the holder of an American passport.
Like the United States Programme and similar programmes in Austria, Belgium, Canada, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, St. Kitts and Nevis and Monaco; the singular goal of the Antigua and Barbuda Citizenship by Investment Programme is to generate investments and jobs for Antiguans and Barbudans and to put Antigua and Barbuda on the road to sustainable growth and development.
Nothing more – Nothing Less!
Despite the flip-flopping and the scare tactics being exhibited and promulgated by the Opposition party on the issue, the motivating factor for the UPP Administration has always been and will remain about generating investments and creating jobs and growing the economy.
The economic development value of CIPs and related investment attraction initiatives, has long been established.
Many countries across the globe, including our neighbor St. Kitts and Nevis, in testament to the importance of attracting investment, offer residency status in exchange for a sizeable financial contribution. In all cases, investors are offered the privilege of expedited residency with qualifying investments.
However, ladies and gentlemen, based on the work that has been done on the Antigua and Barbuda programme, I am fully confident that our programme will soon be considered one of the most prestigious and well regulated and managed across the globe.
Our preparation for implementation of this initiative, as I mentioned earlier, included tapping on the experience and knowledge of international consulting firms specializing in immigration assistance for investors.
I would like to place on record the appreciation of the government of Antigua and Barbuda to the company of Henley and Partners for their invaluable assistance in getting us to this stage.
The six-month consultancy agreement with Henley and Partners will expire in December of this year and I am confident that their support has paved the way for the successful operationalization of the programme.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
While the chief goal of the programme is to attract investments to our shores, create jobs and grow the economy, we are cognizant of the fact that we must safeguard the integrity of our being a citizen of Antigua and Barbuda and the overall image of Antigua and Barbuda.
We are fully aware of the value of our passport and how passionately and with what great esteem the people of our twin-island nation regard this document.
And may I interject here – similar to how the Opposition Labour Party is creating division and fear in the state between born citizens and our naturalized brothers and sisters with the new regulations associated with voter re-registration, so too they are attempting to create fear and division by claiming that the CIP Programme is about selling our passports.
The UPP Administration is resolute that the CIP programme should in no way jeopardize the integrity of the national passport.
Therefore, the Antigua and Barbuda Citizenship by Investment Programme is not an open-sesame for all and sundry. I need not remind you that the UPP Administration is not of the ALP persuasion, which has attracted the likes of Robert Vesco, Bill Chung and others.
As such, we have structured the CIP to meet the most incisive scrutiny and to deliver the most rigorous review of the applications received by the Citizenship by Investment Unit.
To ensure that this goal is achieved, we have sought and received the services of Mr. Donald Myatt, who comes to us with over thirty-five years experience in immigration and citizenship business, having worked for the Canadian Government in China, Hong Kong and London.
As CEO of the CIU, Mr. Myatt’s appointment is for two years with an Antiguan understudy, who will assume his position upon the completion of his tenure.
I am also confident that with the expertise and professionalism that Mr. Myatt brings to the CIU and the competent and equally professional staff that supports him, the Antigua and Barbuda Citizenship by Investment Programme will be a model initiative.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Your government is fully aware that while many of you may support the CIP, that you do so with some hesitation.
However, the current climate in which we live where we have to contend with the reality of economic slowdown, and the virtual disappearance of traditional funding sources, this programme remains one of the most viable options for development.
Your government was elected to chart a course for greater self-determination which empowers us to more fully direct the pace, impact and outcomes of our development initiatives.
Even though in the past we have been proactive in facilitating the investor at the point of his proposal, in many cases they controlled our development direction.
The CIP is giving us the additional impetus to adopt a strategic, targeted and programmatic approach to how our development would unfold.
In short, it is so designed to allow us to clearly and intentionally craft the development agenda of our country.
The modules of investment: 1. Real Estate investment of US Four Hundred Thousand;
2. The US Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand dollar contribution to the National Development Fund, including a charitable contribution and;
3. The Business Investment of at least US One Point Five Million; are all within our control. We will decide on the investments that will produce economic growth and generate jobs.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
We have thought long and hard about this programme.
We have invested a great deal of time and energy in perfecting its guiding principles.
We have sought to ensure that we receive the best advice and assistance from our partners in the governments and private sectors in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.
The CIP of Antigua and Barbuda is legitimate, well regulated and has already attraced international interest and approval.
I ask you to trust your government.
Trust the programme.
The beneficiaries will be you the people of Antigua and Barbuda.
Walk with us as we reshape our economic condition.
It is now my pleasure to officially announce that the Citizenship by Investment Programme of Antigua and Barbuda is fully launched.Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen and may God bless each and every one of us and the nation of Antigua and Barbuda.