Minister “spins’’ GIIP, saying it’s not rejected
St. George’s, March 8, 2012 – Information Minister, Senator Glen Noel, is denying reports that a proposed revenue-generating initiative from the Minister of Finance has been shelved after failing to receive majority support in cabinet.
Finance Minister Nazim Burke has been promoting the Grenada Individual Investor Programme (GIIP) as an initiative that could “increase the revenue base for the country, increase employment generation,’’ and provide an “additional source of foreign exchange for Grenada.’’
GIIP closely resembles the failed “passport-selling’’ Economic Citizenship Programme of the government of former Prime Minister Keith Mitchell; and many members of the current government are reported to be uneasy about implementing what could be interpreted as a new version of an old and controversial scheme.
However, Noel claims that it isn’t that GIIP doesn’t have cabinet support. Cabinet members, he said, have decided to put the implementation of the programme on hold while consultation is held on whether Grenadians approve of GIIP.
There is no timeframe for the introduction of GIIP, said Noel.
However, government sources have accused Noel of trying to put a positive spin on the issue. They insist that GIIP has been rejected, with no attempt expected to be made to implement it before government goes to the poll in general elections due by next year.
Proposed new program “legitimate investment tool’’
St. George’s, February 26, 2012 – Grenada, which attempted an economic citizenship program under the former New National Party (NNP) government, may soon be embarking on another similar initiative.
The proposed initiative will be called the Grenada Individual Investor Program (GIIP), Finance Minister Nazim Burke said Sunday.
“It’s not a government program that has been approved or adopted,’’ Burke told broadcaster George Grant.
The minister’s comment contradicts statements in a letter written last year by Christopher DeRiggs to the head of a Chinese financial company.
In the letter, which was copied to Burke, DeRiggs – Director of Private Sector Development in the Ministry of Finance – assures the chairman of the board of Touchstone Capital Partners Enterprise of China that the “the Government of Grenada hereby accepts your proposal’’ for resident status for potential investors, provided that “the applicants shall pay all applicable fees associated with their application.’’
The issue at the centre of the exchange between DeRiggs and Touchstone, which was promising to invest up to US$50 million in Grenada, parallels the GIIP announced Sunday by Burke.
However, the minister maintains that GIIP is still an idea.
“It is a program which is under consideration by the government,’’ said Burke, who is also Minister of Planning and Economic Development.
“We’ve started a process of conversation with respect to this proposed program,’’ he added. “It’s a program we believe can bring substantial benefits to Grenada if it is well designed; if it is properly managed; if it is well implemented.’’
The economic citizenship program of the former NNP administration of former Prime Minister Keith Mitchell was criticized for the manner in which it was administered.
The program, which allowed successful applicants to secure Grenadian passports, may have played a part in the NNP’s 2008 general election defeat, and in Canada including Grenadians on a list of foreign nationals who now require visas to enter that country.
Burke acknowledged that there is likely to be “a lot of national anxieties’’ about GIIP because of the failed economic citizenship program.
He said one of the reasons the previous program did not succeed was “essentially because it was not well conceived.’’
Burke promised that GIIP, which he described as a “legitimate investment tool,’’ will be different and will be overseen by a statutory body – the Grenada Individual Investor Program Authority.
“Our suggestion is that such an authority must be headed by the Solicitor General,’’ said Burke.
“It must include the Permanent Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Ministry; the Accountant General; a representative from the Grenada Industrial Development Corporation; the Director of the Financial Intelligence Unit; the Chief Immigration Officer; a representative from the NGO community; a representative from the business community; a representative from labour; and a representative from the Conference of Churches.’’
Burke said GIIP will be accompanied by a “strong’’ legal and accounting framework, a transparent system, parliamentary oversight, and audited accounts done by the Director of Audit.
It also will have a separate fund for depositing money collected under the GIIP.
“The government will set up a separate fund to be known as the Transformation Fund,’’ Burke revealed.
“This fund will be apart from the Consolidated Fund. The money that is collected will go into that parliamentary-established Transformation Fund to develop the five sectors of the economy that we’ve identified as the transformational sectors, as well as to undertake projects in public infrastructure.’’
According to Burke, GIIP “provides an opportunity to expand the national economy; to increase the revenue base for the country; to increase employment generation; and is an additional source of foreign exchange for Grenada.’’
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