ST JOHN’S, Antigua – The opposition United Progressive Party (UPP) on Saturday criticized a decision by the Gaston Browne administration to lower the processing fees for the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP).
The UPP said this will ignite a price war among OECS countries and is likely to jeopardize and accelerate the decline of the programme throughout the region.
Antigua and Barbuda’s Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU) has reduced the processing fees for some CIP applicants, according to reports.
But the UPP said this price discount strategy, which it describes as merely a desperate, “knee jerk” reaction that is likely to backfire, is aimed at increasing market share and maintaining the administration’s “cash grab” posture.
“With significant negative fallout associated with the recent elimination of Antigua and Barbuda’s visa-free access to Canada, the UPP maintains the position that the country’s CIP should be temporarily suspended,” a party statement said.
“The party continues to call for a forensic audit and an assessment of the policies, operational efficiencies and product quality, aimed at strengthening the programme’s brand image.”
The UPP feels that this price discount strategy will further jeopardize the integrity of the programme and by extension the country, causing continued deterioration at the local, regional and international level.
“By lowering the fees for the CIP, the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) Government has further commoditized our sovereignty by cheapening the value of our passport, the most patriotic emblem of our heritage,” the UPP Political Leader Harold Lovell said.
“The ABLP administration has in essence ignited a price war, which will cause further damage to our brand and investment profile. Lower pricing calls into question the depth and quality of the due diligence that will be conducted and the overall quality, uniqueness and distinction that our CIP product will offer.
“This is a move that will likely eliminate any chance of restoring Antigua and Barbuda’s visa-free access to Canada and it also puts us in a compromised position, as it relates to maintaining our EU/UK visa-free access,” Lovell added.