Another amendment to Passport selling scheme

The Keith Mitchell-led government in St. George’s is making moves to amend the Citizen by Investment Bill No. 15/2013 to remove the requirement for an applicant for permanent residence or citizen by investment or residence to pay the contribution into an escrow account before their application is processed.

This is the third major amendment that the administration is seeking to make to the Bill since it was originally passed in Parliament in August 2013.

The first amendment saw the deleting of one of the requirements in the report – the giving of the names, addresses and nationalities of applicants and dependents.

The second change gave the Minister of Finance the authority to grant citizenship to an applicant who makes a significant investment in Grenada.

The latest amendment would give the Minister power to regulate how applicants under the CBI pay their investment monies to the state.

In presenting the proposed amendment to the Lower House of Parliament last week Friday, Economic Development Minister, Oliver Joseph noted, that the principal Act requires the applicant to pay all the fees up front, whether the investment is approved or not.

Minister Joseph provided a reason for seeking to make the change as he told the House that an investor “would have to have great confidence in a programme like that (the CBI) to pay all the monies upfront and then wait to see if you (they) will get approval (of the project).”

“So we decided to ask for the processing fee to be paid upfront and for the investment amount to be paid after approval,” he said.

“So you (the investor) would apply through the local agent, it would be submitted to the CBI committee, then to the Minister for approval and after it has been approved then you will pay the remaining amount of money,” he added.

Minister of Implementation, Alexandra Otway-Noel who stood up in support of the Bill brought before the House for consideration, expressed great confidence that the proposed amendment would ensure the country’s competitiveness in the global environment.

“We live in a competitive world…The amendment that we are making will make us (Grenada) more competitive as most of the other jurisdictions have this already – where they do not ask for the investor to put the money into an escrow account beforehand in full,” said Minister Otway-Noel.

Leader of Government Business in the Lower House, Gregory Bowen also rose to give support to the Bill and reiterated the importance of the country being competitive in the passport selling scheme.

He said the move giving the Minister power to regulate how payments are made is aimed at “protecting investments and Grenada.”

The ruling New National Party (NNP) which controls all 15 seats in Parliament used its majority position to pass the Grenada Citizen by Investment (Amendment) Bill, 2015.

This Bill is now subject to scrutiny by the members of the Upper House (Senate) when it sits on a date to be announced by the Office of Parliament.

The cash-strapped Mitchell government is looking to the CBI to bring in millions of additional revenue to the Treasury.

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