By Rohan Charles
The NDP in its quest to the electorate has proposed to decrease revenue while increasing revenue. How are they proposing to do that? The NDP claim they will cut VAT by 3% and they are proposing to introduce a scheme called CBI, Citizenship By investment. This to them is touted as easy tax free money.
Let’s look first at the reduction on VAT. This is very attractive as everyone will like to earn more and pay less in taxes. However, we know that taxes are needed to keep any economy going. It’s needed to pay salaries, pay debt, finance capital projects, like fixing roads, building schools, hospitals etc… So if one is going to cut revenue they must show where the shortfall will be made up. Enters CBI…
One its face value CBI is said to be a scheme where someone come wanting to make an investment and in return they will be given citizenship. Great!!! Spoiler alert though, this does not happen in over 95% of the instances where citizenship was granted in any of the Caribbean countries with the scheme. Let’s take St Kitts for Example since it’s implementation thousands of people has gained citizenship. Name the thousands of investments each made not only there but in Grenada, or St Lucia or Dominica. It is just not true that an investment must be made.
What is the scheme really about then. It is just what it is a scheme. A scheme where, fraudsters, gangsters, tax evaders and people seeking easy access to counties where without our passport they would need a visa. The process will cost them to get that visa or will unearth dirt which will not make them eligible for a visa. As yourself why else will a millionaire from China, want a Vincentian passport or someone from the middle east?
In this scheme a company advertise your business for sale, buy one get one at half price for a family member its that easy. That company get a cut and the country gets a cut. That person stays in their home country fill the form out and without even being able to point your country a map gain citizenship.
They don’t know what’s your national dish or even date of your country’s independence. In St Lucia a Chinese was given the right to sell passports to finance a project. If that’s not bad lands on which the projects was built was even to him at and I kid you not $1 an acre.
How then is the NDP going to get the revenue from CBI to replace what was lost from VAT? CBI is not viable and it’s unsustainable. In all this there are no guarantee that one passport will be sold so all the glitter held in front of us can fall to nought. So, with reduce revenue from VAT and the uncertainty of CBI, how will the NDP prepare and finance a budget for our country. In St Lucia with CBI over four and a half years the government has borrowed over 1.7 Billion dollars.
Again playing on emotions the NDP through Mr Leacock says “Life will get better from the night of election” VAT is going down right away however, CBI will not be implemented until at least a year after gaining office if they are to win. How will the budget finance during that time? How can I say it will take a year? What do I know? Unless no law is going to be in place then the parliamentary proceedings is going to take time.
The bill will have to be drafted, consultations had, select committees established. This is hoping that the NDP will be open and transparent with the process. Then the passport will have to be advertised and applications process which can take months if we are going to have due diligence as they talk about.
Finally, two questions for the NDP. How will they manage the economy until CBI scheme is up and running bearing in mind they opposed hotel development, the AIA and reduce VAT?. Secondly, if CBI fail where will revenue come from to finance and manage the economy.?