Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite says he sees no reason why Barbados could not have a citizenship by investment programme.
However, speaking in Parliament today during debate on the Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2016, the St Philip South MP warned that policymakers should not seek to lure wealthy people to our shores only to have them frustrated by bureaucrats.
Brathwaite did not go into detail on his proposal or address any the controversial aspects of the move, which would see Barbados going the route of Caribbean neighbours such as Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica and St Kitts and Nevis in offering persons the opportunity to legally aquire Barbadian citizenship and become legal holders of the Barbadian passport in return for major financial contributions to society, culture, the economy and other interests of the state.
However, he contended that any business venture that earns foreign currency for the country should be seen as international business, while also suggesting the island should enter the field of aircraft and ship registry.
Brathwaite also told Parliament that contrary to popular belief, Barbados’ International Business and the Financial Services Sector was “very much alive”.
However, he complained about a “double standard” within the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, saying members of the developed nations grouping saw nothing wrong with asking others to declare ownership of companies within their jurisdiction, while no one could peruse theirs.
“You cannot go to London and do a property search and find out who the beneficial owner of a company is. Here it is, these people are saying we want to come to your country and do a search of any company and find out who is the beneficial owner. Such is the double standards that we face and this is the challenge we had to face for the last 18 months,” Brathwaite said.
He lamented that just as many hours were spent by policymakers building out Barbados’ international business sector, as had been spent “looking over our shoulders”.
The Attorney General told parliament that small developing countries experienced problems in establishing a correspondent banking relationship, a challenge which if not overcome could prevent them from holding foreign currencies.
“So if you do not have a bank that can hold your US dollars and your pounds sterling that becomes a challenge. So it is not by accident that there has been a slowing down in new banks established in Barbados,” he said, adding that it was not a case that “we have been sitting and doing nothing.
“We have had major challenges on how we should defend our sovereignty. Everytime we turn one corner another challenge arises. Today you are blacklisted, tomorrow it is withdrawn.” Brathwaite explained.