The controversial Grenada Citizenship by Investment Bill, 2013 returns to Parliament today (Friday) as the cash-strapped New National Party (NNP) administration of Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell looks for funds to build its new economy for the island.
Addressing the media during the weekly post-Cabinet press briefing on Tuesday, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Nicholas Steele said that the original draft legislation was amended, passed and approved by Cabinet and it should be ready for passage at the next sitting of Parliament.
The Bill seeks to make provisions for persons looking to acquire residence and citizenship of Grenada by registration following investment in Grenada.
The Mitchell government agreed to re-introduce the “Citizenship by Investment Programme” after its overwhelming 15-0 landslide victory in the February 19 General Elections.
There was controversy surrounding the country’s suspended Economic Citizenship Programme under a previous Mitchell government, which placed the country in a very concerned state after several people of questionable, and criminal backgrounds were found to have Grenadian citizenship through the programme.
Minister Steele did not disclose what the exact amendments to the draft legislation are, but said that the past concerns were addressed and approved by Cabinet.
In the delivery of the 2013 Budget of Revenue and Expenditure (Holding Budget), Prime Minister Mitchell in his capacity as Minister for Finance announced that the new programme will be tailored to Grenada’s needs and the island will take great care to attract clean and credible investors.
The draft legislation tabled by Dr. Mitchell was presented in the House of Representatives on June 28, where it received its first reading.
The programme will allow investors from throughout the world to buy Grenadian citizenship as part of Government’s commitment to building a New Economy.
The administration had estimated to earn revenue of $27 million from this programme in 2013.
A former Mitchell government was chastised and forced to abandon its controversial Economic Citizenship programme in 2001 following the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.
The programme was suspended due to fears that local passports could mistakenly be sold to terrorists.
It is widely believed that the selling of the passports was instrumental in Canada imposing visa restrictions on Grenadian nationals and subsequently the country being internationally blacklisted until 2002.
Under the previous Economic Citizenship programme, full Grenadian citizenship for a family of five (spouses, plus 3 children under 25) could be gotten for a sum of US$50,000, of which US$39,060 went to the Grenadian government and US$11,000 to an agent handling processing and administrative work.
There were no residency requirements, except the need to reside in Grenada for six years to be eligible to vote and hold public office.