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Government is considering options to protect the country’s CIP 

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The government is exploring several options to protect the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) following the United Kingdom’s signalled intent to conduct a review of the programmes that operate in the English-speaking Caribbean.

On Wednesday, the Cabinet invited the Chief Executive Officer of the CIP, Charmaine Donovan, to provide an update on the measures the agency has taken to strengthen the programme’s security protocols.

On Thursday, Cabinet spokesman, Melford Nicholas, said during the last quarter of 2022, both the government and the management of the CIP indicated to the UK government Antigua and Barbuda’s willingness to discuss the country’s CIP programme to assure them of the robust security measures that are in place to protect both nation’s borders from infiltration by undesirable individuals.

“When the head of the CIP visited Cabinet, she was able to indicate that a number of OECS countries with similar CIP programmes have made certain changes and are looking towards adopting some of the measures that Antigua and Barbuda has in place,” he stated.

Nicholas has on several occasions in the past indicated the government’s willingness to cooperate with other countries that offer a CIP to arrive at solutions to ensure the survival of the industry and stave off the impact of debilitating changes that may occur in the UK or European Union (EU).

“We don’t have full control. What we have is influence and we plan to use that influence to our benefit.

“We were also cautioned that the UK is no longer part of the EU because of Brexit, so they in turn have sent out feelers to look at some of the security issues that they have detected at their border,” said Nicholas as he placed the reason for the UK’s interest in the country’s CIP in context.

According to Nicholas, Donnovan assured the Cabinet that the UK’s concerns about its border security have not been triggered by breaches in Antigua and Barbuda’s due diligence systems or because of any individual granted citizenship under the country’s programme.

“We are engaging in a positive manner to share the information. We feel that our security measures are as such that we go through detailed levels of approval, and even through Caribbean IMPACS, we ensure that before we approve any such citizen, we allow these governments to be able to have a preview as well of these individuals before we assign them. They must go through that process.

“We remain hopeful, but if the worse come to that, then it is something that we will have to deal with,” he declared.

Antigua and Barbuda has an extremely strong due diligence and investigative machinery in place which ensures that only applicants who are above reproach are approved for citizenship.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet also decided to bring all quarry and road unit workers up to date with overtime payments owed to them. The money to meet the outstanding obligations to these workers will be paid from the resources of the Citizenship by Investment Programme.

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