The Opposition has pledged to “take the Government to the bone”, if it tries to introduce economic citizenship to this country.
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Fruendel Stuart told reporters during a tour of Limegrove Lifestyle Centre in Holetown, St. James, that the matter was being discussed by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Officer, Darcy Boyce, the chief immigration officer and himself.
Stuart did say though, that such an issue wasn’t something the Government could rush headlong into.
But Opposition MP Kerrie Symmonds, who shared a news briefing this afternoon with Leader Mia Mottley, made it clear his party would fight against any plan to introduce economic citizenship.
“There are some things which we feel as a political party, that are philosophically part of the underpinnings of this society. Barbados has historically been very clear that we earned our living, we made our living the old fashioned way,” asserted Symmonds.
“The idea of accepting financial contributions from anyone who has been able to accumulate a few million, or billion dollars, by any means whatsoever, in exchange for a Barbados passport is not something that we are prepared to embrace,” he insisted.
Symmonds said the Barbados Labour Party felt “very” strongly, that to go down the road of economic citizenship, “means that you grant an open door to every successful pirate, every successful gun runner, every successful drug trafficker, every successful slaver who has been able to ply his or her nefarious trade and then find their way to these shores in the hope of getting a Barbados passport”.
He suggested that countries which had followed such a route before, had often lost any reputation they previously had for being a brand or a place which is seen as internationally worthy or worthwhile.
“Barbadians today, do not have to get a visa to go to the United Kingdom, we do not have to have a visa to get access to Canada and several other places.
“Countries who have gone this route of economic citizenship and subscribe to a concept of economic citizenship, pursuing a policy of granting status as a Barbadian to whosoever has a few million dollars, find themselves in a situation where their hard working citizens, all of us then become affected by the need to be in a queue to apply for a visa to go abroad,” the Opposition MP stated.
“We want to make it very clear to the Government that this is a point on which the BLP says, wheel and come again. It will not be acceptable for us.”
He said the legislation which currently existed included a Barbadian Citizenship Act.
“We feel that legislation, far from being amended to allow for economic citizenship, should be strengthened so as to protect against it,” he suggested.
Symmonds also reminded the ruling Democratic Labour Party that it had previously conceptualised and promoted a “green paper” on comprehensive review of immigration policy in 2009, which indicated that the DLP was not prepared to look at economic citizenship as part of the way forward.
“We feel that it is now necessary for Mr Freundel Stuart to hold fast to any of the philosophical positions that had been the underpinnings of the Democratic Labour Party of Erskine Sandiford and Errol Barrow and even of David Thompson and that we can’t continue to throw away the baby with the bath water in this mad rush to adopt a bargain basement approach to politics,” concluded Symmonds.
“To prostitute this country for a mess of pottage is not something that we are prepared to be party to.” (EJ)