As published on antiguaobserver.com, Friday 18 March, 2022.
The creation of a regional Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) regulatory body has been proposed by Cabinet.
This development follows the announcement by the European Union (EU) last Wednesday that it is considering removing visa-free travel to the Schengen Area from countries that currently have CIPs.
The news prompted Prime Minister Gaston Browne to pen a letter to the EU, which outlined the severe impact to Caribbean economies if CIPs were to come to a screeching halt.
Cabinet spokesperson Melford Nicholas believes a regional response addressing the EU’s CIP concerns would signify compliance, and disclosed that Ambassador Colin Murdoch is currently in Geneva assisting the process with the European Union on this particular matter.
“It will be a response to the issues they have raised and it will be to demonstrate, over and above anything else, our intent to be compliant and sympathetic to issues that they may raise in terms of their own internal security,” Nicholas said during this week’s post-Cabinet press briefing.
The Information Minister said the implementation of a CIP regulatory commission could assist in diversifying residency offerings and maintaining attractiveness for investors.
“We can diversify our own offering to ensure that we will still be attractive to investors and investment from other jurisdictions where they may be precluded from obtaining citizenship, but they may well look favourably upon the residency programme,” he said.
Meanwhile, the government is looking to widen Antigua and Barbuda’s CIP portfolio to increase the likelihood of investors seizing the opportunity to live in a country that offers several physical and mental health benefits while possibly working abroad as digital nomads.
Cabinet notes said ministers had agreed to amend current CIP legislation so that the programme could be known as ‘the Residency and Citizenship by Investment Programme’.
“Those who wish to establish residence in Antigua and Barbuda will be able so to do under the identical conditions as under the citizenship programme,” the notes said.
“It will allow those who wish to retain their citizenship of their place of birth to enjoy virtually all the benefits of the Citizenship by Investment Programme without having citizenship conferred.”
Minister Nicholas explained further, “There could be professionals working in other jurisdictions, who can provide virtual services, who may wish to contemplate working in an environment that is more leisurely or perhaps more attractive to their own health.
“We are hoping to offer a number of other features in our own particular markets; leisure health services are one of those.”
He said that government sees an opportunity to recalibrate and offer another package of services that will appeal to people from other jurisdictions who may not be able to carry dual citizenship while mitigating the threat of visa restrictions.
“It is broadening the scope of our offering. That is the key behind this requirement, looking to modify our programme going forward to ensure that we can cushion the impact of any fallout from this threat,” Nicholas added.