Editorial Staff
7 months ago

Editorial Staff
7 months ago

The government takes measures to protect the economy amid CIP threat

​By Zaya Williams

 

The Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) has been a significant source of revenue for several Caribbean countries, including Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, St Lucia, and St Kitts & Nevis. However, mounting international pressure, particularly from the European Union (EU) and the UK, has put the future of these programs into question.

Recent actions by the UK, which removed Dominica’s visa-free access to its borders due to concerns with their CIP, have raised speculations that other nations could face similar consequences.

The potential threat to the CIP will force the government of Antigua and Barbuda to explore alternative measures to safeguard their economies and revenue streams. One of the primary steps the government is prepared to take is to improve tax collection.

“Our tax revenue base is far from adequate. The median position that we ought to be in is 25 percent of our GDP ought to be able to come from our tax base and we are some 9 percentage points away from that. We are operating in the 16 percent quartile,” Information Minister Melford Nicholas highlighted during the recent post-Cabinet media briefing.

Addressing the issue, Nicholas emphasized the importance of tax revenue in supporting the country’s development.

“It does mean that the non-taxable revenues that come from the CIP program have in fact given us that buttress that allowed us to be able to find a lot of the developments that we have in place including improvements to our education system,” he stated.

However, the government is not solely relying on improved tax collection to fill the potential gap left by the CIP’s demise. It is also looking towards economic diversification as a key strategy to bolster the country’s financial resilience. Minister Nicholas mentioned several sectors where the government sees promising potential for diversification, including logistics, education, and utilities management.

The logistics sector, particularly the renovation of the cargo port.

He said: “One of the areas where there will be significant potential in the next two operational years would be in the whole question of logistics at the port. We’ve spent significant sums of money upwards of 97 million USD in renovating our cargo port and we see that as presenting us with some opportunities to play a greater role in the movement of goods across the ports at this part of the world.”

The government hopes to one day upgrade to a transshipment port.

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