By Arthur Kallick
Nicholas Steele, Grenada’s minister of foreign affairs and international business piloted a bill in the country’s parliament to amend the Citizenship by Investment Act #15 of 2013. Under aegis of the Citizenship by Investment (Amendment) Bill 2014, the ruling New National Party (NNP) administration seeks to amend Section 14, sub-section 3 by deleting paragraph (b).
Arthur Kallick was born in Trinidad and lived in Grenada until he moved to Canada in the late 1980s after completing secondary school. He has a Master’s in family counselling and child physiology from the University of Toronto. He is now a freelance writer and has been living in Grenada for the past six years, and at present works with Caribbean Family Planning unit as a counsellor
The said Section 14 dictates that the minister shall supply to the parliament “prescribed information” on applications made granted and refused under the Act. The report shall be for a six-month period in each year starting on January 1 and July 1 and may be prepared within one month of the expiry of each half-year period.
Minister Steele, whose wife has been granted the licence of a local agent, seemed nervous as he piloted what can be described as an assault on the threshold of transparency provided for in the original legislation.
The section to be deleted (b) reads:
“The names, addresses and nationalities of the applicants and any dependants included in the applications.”
The million dollar question to Minister Steele is why does his administration think it necessary to limit the information provided to the Parliament? Past experience suggests that opaque transactions have damaged the nation’s reputation in the past. The likes of Eric Resteiner, Victor Kozeny (the pirate of Prague) and Van Brink are potent reminders of a dubious past that was facilitated by a previous NNP administration.
As it stands the report will contain the number of applications made, granted and refused. The names of the government sponsored project that will receive funding under the application, aggregate amounts deposited with the National Transformation Fund and other information that the minister considers appropriate.
Recent decisions taken by the government of St Kitts should remind the administration that any Citizenship by Investment Programme must contain international best practices in transparency and accountability. To diminish these prerequisites by amending legislation that is barely a year old speaks volumes about the administration’s commitment to good governance.
The Grenadian people deserve better.