Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Senator opposes amendment to CBI Act

By Linda Straker

Raymond Roberts, Labour Senator in the Upper House, has described the amendment to the Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Act as ill-advised.

Roberts, who was the only senator present during debate on the Citizenship by Investment Amendment Act because the other senators were absent, said that the labour movement, which he represents in the Senate, is very concerned about the decision by Government to delete from the original legislation the section which provides for the names of all applicants to be published in a Parliamentary bi-annual report.

“We are an open society and want to see transparency. We, therefore, cannot understand the reason for the removal of this section, which will let us know who are our new citizens,” he said in his arguments while debating the removal of Section 15 sub-section B of the Citizenship by Investment Act.

Reminding the House that during the first citizenship programme, there were nationals from countries that were known to be involved in terrorist activities receiving Grenada’s citizenship and passport, Roberts said that publishing the names of all who applied for citizenship would be letting everyone know who are the holders of Grenada’s passport.

Roberts said that he foresees some governments taking action against Grenada for embarking on the programme, which has the potential to hide wanted persons who might be involved in acts of terror.

“Once again I see further visa restriction,” he said, without naming any potential countries who may take such action against Grenada.

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell has said that it was an error on the part of Government to initially include a section in the Citizen by Investment legislation which provides for the names, addresses and nationalities of persons who applied for Grenada citizenship to be made public.

“I think it was an error on our part. No other country has it in their legislation and that could be a hindrance to us. There is no need to expose every single name who applied,” Dr. Mitchell said.

According to the legislation, the Citizenship by Investment Committee shall be responsible for processing any application for any licence under the Act, and any application for Citizenship by Investment or Permanent Residence by Investment.

Section 7 of the legislation states the Committee may engage the services of one or more persons or bodies which are independent, professional, and qualified to conduct due diligence checks in respect of every applicant, and every dependent over 11 years of age. The applicant may be required to attend an interview in Grenada or at an Embassy or High Commission of Grenada, before any decision is made in relation to his or her application. An application for Citizenship by Investment or for Permanent Residence by Investment shall only be submitted by an Agent, who is the holder of a Local Agent’s licence.

Since getting the parliamentary approval to establish a Citizenship by Investment Programme by establishing a Citizenship by Investment Committee, Grenada has appointed two marketing agents whose task is to identify suitable applicants for citizenship by investment or permanent residence.

They are Peter de Savary Company and the United States Regional Economic Development Authority (USREDA). While it is unclear which area de Savary’s company will focus, the USREDA will focus on projects and real estate.

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