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Cautious about economic citizenship

British High Commission, Barbados.

St. John’s — Britain is warning that a poorly managed economic citizenship programme could result in visa requirements for people travelling with Antigua & Barbuda passports.

Second Secretary at the British High Commission in Barbados, Daniel Carruthers, said while London does not oppose that economic initiative, it must be above board.

Carruthers said Britian is more concerned about the safety of its citizens than what countries do to sustain their economies.

“The concerns that we have around them {such programmes} are more about the way they are administered. We understand that for some countries that is a way to raise revenue and raise investments in that country,” Carruthers said in and interview from Bridgetown.

“We encourage countries to manage them well,” he added

Britain wants economic citizenship programmes to be “properly monitored” with “very thorough” due diligence checks and to ensure that people trying to obtain that type of citizenship have a “physical link” to the country.

The British diplomat did not reveal whether discussions had been held with his government about the programme although the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said that the plans already have the blessing of the United States, UK and Canada.

Antigua & Barbuda citizens enjoy visa free entry to Britain, but officials at the Barbados office say the country is constantly under review.

In 2009 Antigua & Barbuda underwent a visa – waiver check from Britain and came out clean but Carruthers revealed that “any country reserves the right to put in place a visa regime at any time in order to protect its borders”.

“As you know border security is a delicate balance. Our government needs to protect its borders but it needs to allow for legal migration and for the right kind of people to come,” he said.

Britain looks at several factors before it imposes visa restriction on countries.

A series of consultations starts tomorrow as the United Progressive Party administration moves full steam ahead with its economic citizenship programme.

The administration has promised that the programme, which has garnered support in some quarters of the opposition Antigua Labour Party, will be above board. (Antigua Observer)

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