Published On: Fri, Jan 6th, 2017

Stakeholders weigh in on Caribbean citizenship programmes

linton-60-minutesNEW YORK - A statement issued on Wednesday by a public relations agency in New York has attempted to address the topic of citizenship by investment programmes in the Caribbean highlighted by the January 1 segment on '60 Minutes', and to bring to light “inaccuracies” made by opposition United Workers Party (UWP) leader Lennox Linton in Dominica, as well as to clarify some residency issues affecting Caribbean nations.

According to the release, the legal citizenship by investment process is a respected process by all, and one that is held to the highest degree of scrutiny and standards.

This process is a vital part of the fabric of the national economy in many of these nations, most of which rely on the revenue derived from this process to provide their citizens with opportunities for economic advancement, to improve necessary infrastructure, and to promote greater good in their respective nations.

St Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris recently highlighted the importance of citizenship by investment programmes and illustrated that these programmes are a vital part of the country's infrastructure and opportunity for economic and social advancement.

St Kitts and Nevis is a nation that used to thrive in exporting sugar cane and other natural resources. However, the sugar cane industry in the nation has fallen on hard times, driven by challenges due to economies of scale in production. Consequently, St Kitts and Nevis has become more dependent on alternative revenue streams such as citizenship by investment programs.

Dominica is another country blessed with natural beauty and a breathtaking landscape. In recent times, it has been forced to innovate new ways to promote economic advancement as a result of devastating consequences from global warming and natural disasters. Dominica's citizenship by investment programme generates substantial revenue for the country, and has proven to be a lifesaver following Tropical Storm Erika, which nearly crippled the entire nation's infrastructure.

Micha-Rose Emmett, group managing director of CS Global Partners, which is a legal consultancy firm specializing in citizenship and residence solutions, clarified several inaccuracies that were brought to light in the '60 Minutes' piece and in the interview with Linton:

Despite what Linton contends, Dominica remains economically stable as a result of the policies it has in place regarding the legal citizenship by investment process. The people of Dominica are loyal, hardworking citizens who don't have the resources that come naturally to other nations. Dominica is dependent on revenue generated from legal citizenship by investment processes to provide for their own citizens, and the country stands strong today as a result, despite Linton's attempts to undermine the work that is being done by the country's Government.

Linton continues to push his own personal agenda ahead of the greater good of Dominica. His latest appearance on '60 Minutes' is nothing more than theatre, and completely undermines any respect that he may have had in the Caribbean.

His motivation to bring Dominica down and take away the financial security that was created through the government's foresight to bring prosperity to the country by the legal citizenship process is reprehensible. The numbers clearly indicate that nine out of ten Dominicans fully support the current government.

In his '60 Minutes' interview, Linton tried to persuade the audience incorrectly that the Caribbean is the only region that offers citizenship without a visit. This couldn't be further from the truth. A number of countries in Europe and Asia grant citizenship without a visit to the host country.

The real issue that Linton failed to acknowledge is that these small developing islands are faced with immense struggles due to consequences of climate change. In particular, over the past 15 years the economic impact that hurricanes, storms, and rising sea temperatures have had on these countries has been devastating.

This has not only caused infrastructural damage but has had a long lasting strain on the agricultural and fishing industries that are critical sources of income for the islands.

As a result, these islands have become increasingly more dependent on the legal citizenship by investment process in order to sustain their economies.

These issues are pervasive across the entire Caribbean and not isolated to Dominica and St Kitts and Nevis only.

Grenada, as another example, had a rich history of exporting the finest nutmeg across the world. Grenada's nutmeg export economy was devastated after Hurricane Ivan and has become dependent on alternative sources of revenue to sustain its economy. The list goes on. If it had not been for perfectly legal alternative income sources, such as economic citizenship programmes, countries such as these would be on life support.

Any reasonable party who has participated in and engaged in the legal citizenship by investment process would vehemently reject many of Linton's positions, and fiercely defend these islands that are finding innovative and resourceful ways to promote economic advancement for its citizens. It is regretful that '60 Minutes' chose not to focus on the real issues impacting the Caribbean, West Indies and other small developing islands around the world.

Photo: Dominica opposition leader Lennox Linton (L) in conversation with 60 Minutes journalist, Steve Kroft

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