Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell stated that though the government does not agree with the planned blacklisting by the Organisation of Economic Corporation and Development (OECD) of some island selling passports, the administration will do everything possible to ensure that its Citizenship by Investment (CBI) scheme does not cause problems for the country.
Grenada along with 20 countries blacklisted by the OECD out of concerns about international security and terrorism and the fact that they were offering low personal tax rates on income from foreign financial assets.
Speaking to reporters at last week’s post-Cabinet Briefing at the Ministerial Complex, Dr. Mitchell said that a decision was taken by the CARICOM Heads at a recent meeting in St. Vincent and the Grenadines to respond to the OECD jointly.
He stated that the income that the programme brings to the countries involved in the scheme were highlighted in their response.
“We further noted that the growing importance of the CBI revenue stream to Small Island Developing States. I can tell you this: Grenada has done very well financially, and part of the reason for the economic growth in the country has been the CBI programme”, he said.
“Right now I can tell you – this year we are earning over 60/70 million dollars in the CBI programme already, so you can imagine what it will do for us in the coming months and years ahead”, he added.
The Prime Minister went on: “So, we believe that it is necessary but we must have a CBI that does not create problems for us, so if there are problems raised by anyone or any institution or country, we have to examine it (to) see how we can correct any weakness and move on”.
“…The Government of Grenada understands the intent, while we do not agree, but we understand the intent of the European Union countries and we therefore would deal with their concerns and perception. We therefore support the OECD efforts to ensure that all citizens and financial institutions adhere to the reporting requirements of the Common Reporting Standards (CRS) and rightfully report offshore financial assets to the country of residents”, he said.
Prime Minister Mitchell stressed that government is prepared to work with the OECD to help improve on the CBI programme if needs be.
“It should be noted that the vast majority of the individuals who apply for the CBI programmes are interested in the ease of travel and the sense of security a second citizenship gives them – that are conflict free and peaceful in the countries that they reside.
“We hasten to add that Grenada is a signatory to the common reporting standards, nevertheless, the Government of Grenada commits to working closely with the OECD to raise the level of comfort as it relates to our CBI programme.
“We have no interest or appetite for any individual to evade taxes, which is the major concern of the countries involved, rightfully due to the countries that they are supposed to pay taxes to.
“We are a serious member of the international community and we would therefore not want to encourage anyone to go against breaking any rules.
PM Mitchell sort to give assurances that Grenada’s CBI programme has been free of security breach in this period of implementation.
He said: “We also want to report that the security checks that we are using for persons coming here, note, that was not the main reason for the OECD blacklisting us, it’s what they perceive as the evasion of taxes but, we know that deep down they also might be concerned about that, so we are doing everything to continue to keep that area very tight or to tighten it even further.
“…We in Grenada feel strongly that we do not want anyone getting a Grenada passport – so far we have not had in this period of implementation of that programme, where anyone that we have given CBI passport to have been a problem as far as security is concerned,” he added.