The CARICOM Review Commission, whose report was tabled in the Jamaica Parliament last week, has expressed concern about the administration of Citizenship by Investment programmes (CIPs) currently operated by five CARICOM Member States, and has called for the establishment of a CARICOM framework agreement on their operation.
CIPs were among the many diverse issues examined by the Commission whose mandate was to review Jamaica’s relations within CARICOM and CARIFORUM. CIPs are currently operated by five CARICOM Member States: namely, Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts & Nevis and St. Lucia, and have been the subject of much scrutiny regionally and internationally.
Though recognising the economic importance of CIPs to these countries, the Commission, chaired by former Jamaica Prime Minister Bruce Golding, raised several issues with their current administration:
- The programmes are driven more by short-term revenue benefits than long term investment gains
- The lack of a minimum period of residency
- The lack of a regional agreement on the operation of such programmes, especially given the national security and other implications for non-CIP operating CARICOM territories
- While referrals to the CARICOM Implementing Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS) are made, the State is not obligated to accept the advice of IMPACS
- Concerns raised by third States (namely the US and Canada) about Caribbean CIPs and the fact that two CIP-operating Member States (St. Kitts & Nevis and Antigua & Barbuda) have already lost visa-free access to Canada due to these concerns
- Cases of persons granted citizenship under these programmes who were later found to be less than savoury characters
- The risks to the Community in light of ever more sophisticated trans-national crime
- The alleged issuance of diplomatic passports to some new citizens
- Varying due diligence procedures used by CIP-operating Member States
As such, one of the thirty-three recommendations made by the Commission in its Report is for the establishment of “an agreed framework with appropriate protocols and safeguards regarding the terms, conditions, qualifications and restrictions in relation to the operation of Citizenship by Investment programmes including prior consultations or sharing of information with other Member States”.
The full report of the Golding Commission may be viewed here.
Alicia Nicholls, B.Sc., M.Sc., LL.B., is an international trade and development consultant with a keen interest in sustainable development, international law and trade. You can also read more of her commentaries and follow her on Twitter @LicyLaw.