Former Attorney-General in the 2008-13 Tillman Thomas-led National Democratic Congress (NDC) government, James Bristol has voiced opposition to the decision taken by the near two-year old government of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell to sell passports in order to attract foreign investors.
Speaking on the weekly “Sunday’s with George Grant” programme, Bristol pointed to the fact that in the 1960s a lot of developments took place in the country with foreign investors and not one passport was sold to lure them to the Spice Isle.
He expressed fears that people who want a passport in order to come to the country to invest have ulterior motive.
According to the former Attorney General, that is the reason why the Canada Government imposed a visa restriction on Grenada during the 2003-08 period in government of a previous Mitchell-led NNP regime.
Bristol charged that the selling of Grenada passports by the island’s government is making it harder for bonafide citizens to enter Ottawa because the value of the passport is being diminished.
He also warned that the visa free travel to Europe may be jeopardized as a result of the recently introduced Citizenship By Investment (CBI) Program by the current government.
Bristol was not fazed by a programme in which Grenada was opening up its doors to millions of people who are looking for citizenship through a passport selling scheme but these persons “never will set foot in your country but will be using your passport all over the world”.
He branded the CBI program as a “microwave” mode and not a sustainable model for development of a country.
The former Attorney General suggested that a bonafide country with good governance at the centrepiece of its policies will attract the right people to come and invest.
He likened the CBI program being pursued by the Mitchell government to that of casino gambling which he said is nothing but an attempt to get a quick fix.
During the debate in the Upper House of Parliament on the 2015 Budget, Labour Representative, Senator Raymond Roberts said he does not believe that the image of the country will be well-protected with the CBI initiative.
Sen. Roberts told the Senate that the CBI passport selling programs lacks openness, and is not appropriate for any country.
“What I fear… is that a Grenadian passport lands in the hands of
any of these demonic monsters with a dream to destroy a city in the United States or the UK (United Kingdom)”, he said.
Sen. Roberts felt that Grenada is so desperate for easy money and it is possible “once the price is right” business may be done with questionable characters.
Opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) Senator Nazim Burke who also added his voice to the debate over the CBI program said it is clouded in too much secrecy.
Sen. Burke indicated that Grenadians are not aware of the number of persons who have already applied for a passport under the programme, or are aware of the number of people who are already been approved for passports.