The consequences of selling passports

Two recent incidents involving foreign persons who purchased passports from St. Kitts & Nevis should serve as red flags to Grenada which has returned to a similar programme of selling passports to raise revenue.

Incidentally, the two incidents took place on Canadian soil and from all reports irked the Canadian authorities.

The government in Ottawa has already imposed a visa requirement on Grenadians entering their territory on security concerns given the fact that some of the sold passports were in the hands of people from the Middle East and other hot bed areas of the world.

Imagine Russians who can hardly speak one word of English arriving in Canada with passports that were sold by agents acting on behalf of the government of Grenada.

What is troubling in the current case involving the person with a Kittian diplomatic passport in his possession is that the national is from Iran which is considered by the powerful and mighty United States as a country that harbours and sponsors terrorism.

Media reports indicate that the Iranian with the diplomatic passport from St. Kitts claimed on entering Canada that he was coming for a meeting with the Canadian Prime Minister – which turned out to be totally false.

An embarrassed St. Kitts government through its Prime Minister, Dr. Douglas was forced to accede to the demands made by Canada and publicly announced that no passports would be sold in future to persons from Iran and Afghanistan.

In light of this development involving St. Kitts, THE NEW TODAY is urging the New National Party (NNP) government of Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell to rethink this matter of the sale of Grenadian passports in order to raise funds even if it is generally acknowledged that the economy is in need of a massive amount of financial assistance.

One scandal involving the new so-called Citizenship By Investment (CBI) programme as being promoted by the nine-month old Mitchell government could have devastating effects on the future prospects of this country.

In recent days, one gets the sense that scores of our young people are beginning to lose hope with the dismal economic outlook for the country and are looking to the United States in particular for an escape route to their current dilemma.

Absolutely nothing should be done to force “Uncle Sam” to put the radar on Grenada and deny more and more of our nationals entry visa into the United States because of the CBI.

Under the former Tillman Thomas administration of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), the island scored a major success when the United States granted our citizens access to a special visa that can allow them to enter the U.S and work for a period of time. Why put this at risk?

Our nationals lost the cherished opportunity to enter Canada without the visa requirement for so many years. Tomorrow it might be Great Britain which might follow in the footsteps and deny us entry without obtaining a valid visa for a programme that might not bring in the amount of revenue that the new government leaders are hoping to raise.

It has been reported that the Iranian paid $1 million for his diplomatic passport from St. Kitts. That is a very tidy sum. However, does it worth the embarrassment in the international community?

This newspaper believes that if an individual has special skills that is required by a government then there is no need to ask him to pay $1 million for a diplomatic passport. Why charge him for a passport? Is it a case of such an individual wanting the use of our passports for his own advantage so much so that he is prepared to pay the one million dollar buck?

What seems to be emerging is that some Caribbean politicians in government have been abusing the sale of passports for their own personal aggrandizement.

This newspaper has unearth information that the sale of passports and diplomatic positions like Ambassadors, Special Envoys, Trade Counselors and Consuls General is primarily used to advance the political ambitions of some of our leaders in terms of raising cash to do their little dirty political work on the home front.

One very knowledgeable person informed us that in a certain island in the Caribbean one of the leaders used his office to sell diplomatic positions and the going rate was US$1 million for an Ambassadorial position and US$300-500, 000 for a Consul General.

The loot from the sale of passports and diplomatic positions is what is used on a weekly basis in the form of dole to the poor and those who like to depend on politicians for their survival and existence.

There are many persons in Europe who are willing to pay the high prices demanded for these diplomatic positions because they help to improve their status.

In the case of the Middle East, it might be a horse of a different colour. The passports from these islands in the Caribbean can afford them ease of travel in places like the United States, Canada and Great Britain where they are closely watched and monitored.

Why would our governments risk the wrath of our friendly allies in the Western democracies for a few dollars more from persons living in countries that are under the microscope as aiding and abetting terrorism?

It goes back to the old saying of the dog, the bone and its shadow.

Today the St. Kitts CBI is causing all kinds of pain and embarrassment to PM Douglas. Tomorrow our own CBI could cause more pain, suffering and hardship for the people of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.

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