Even though collecting $32 million this year is doubtful, the minister of finance has said the Citizen by Investment Programme is still beneficial to the country.
In his first interview since the Bill failed to pass through the Senate on February 13, Harold Lovell said much focus is being placed on government’s immediate projections and not the end goal.
“The benefit of the programme is not only in government revenue, but the economic development it would spur,” the minister said.
Lovell said CIP will spur economic growth and development in the nation by creating job opportunities for residents, kick-starting construction and “getting money to circulate” in the economy.
“Improving the quality of people lives. That is what we are really trying to achieve with this. The added benefit is government revenue,” the finance minister said.
Despite the fact the controversial legislation—that would afford foreign investors Antiguan & Barbudan citizenship—had not attained the parliamentary stamp of approval, government affixed a price tag for the year—which Lovell addressed in his December 17 budget speech.
“We would have hoped to have this programme off and running by now. So, obviously, the $32 million may not be attained, but we will still try for it,” Lovell said.
He added the Bill “suffered an unfortunate delay”.
The legislation’s pace towards the law books met a roadblock when four government senators voted against the CIP in the Senate.
At that time, the Bill was lost in its entirety during the committee stage. The policy will start anew—with every clause of the legislation being re-introduced in the Lower House. It will then makes its way back to the Senate.
The minister disclosed government expects the Bill to return to parliament in two weeks time.
Lovell still holds that the programme will attract foreign direct investment through the influx of cash from “high net worth individuals”, whom he said, are willing to invest in the country and would “be happy to share our sovereignty with us”.