By Caribbean News Global contributor
ST GEORGES, Grenada – Prime minister, Dr Keith Mitchell has underscored his government responsibility to protect the integrity of Grenada’s Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Programme.
This is in response to allegations “that the government is anti-business” says a press release, May 21, from the prime ministers’ office, responding to “allegations made by Warren Newfield, in his resignation letter as an ambassador at large for Grenada. Newfield is also the developer of the Kimpton Kawana Bay project in the south of the island.”
At Friday’s sitting of the House of Representatives, Dr Mitchell said it is clear that there was no issue with diplomatic representation, but instead with government policies relating to the country’s CBI programme.
Referencing the Grenada Sustainable Aquaculture Project, popularly known as the shrimp farm project, Dr Mitchell said: “Government must act decisively to ensure that funds earmarked for development of projects under the CBI programme are not misappropriated.” He further stated that “all necessary steps must be taken to ensure that the shrimp farm debacle is not repeated.”
Prime minister Mitchell quoted from Section 7 of the Grenada Citizenship by Investment (Approved Projects Investment) Regulations, which specifically states: “Every developer shall use all qualifying investment amounts received for an approved project for the sole purpose of the development of the particular approved project”.
Dr Mitchell affirmed that: “Government has a fundamental responsibility to ensure that this is done. Further, if there is any hint that an entity’s actions are contrary to this provision, the government has a duty to investigate and put measures in place to address the same. The fact that this developer was a member of the diplomatic community, up until his resignation [yesterday] made it even more important to ensure that his actions were in keeping with the laws of this country.”
And relative to “the law that led to the accusations of government being anti-business,” the prime minister retort, “it is the government decision to ensure full compliance with the law,” he explained. “If our action in that regard, to uphold the laws of the land, is regarded as anti-business or anti-investor, then so be it. We have a duty to the people of this country to do the right thing.”
Prime minister Mitchell referenced the number of ongoing private sector projects, particularly in this time of global crisis, which tells an entirely different story. Thus, the anti-business or anti-investor allegations are unfounded since none of the other major private sector project developers have indicated any such perception of government.
Dr Mitchell argument is reinforced by “the rise in the CBI Section 11 applications, geared at investment financing, is higher today than in recent years. In fact, it is higher than before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is very significant. It is therefore unfortunate that anyone would brand this government as anti-business / anti-investor because they are no longer allowed to do as they wish.”
The press release from the prime ministers’ office noted that Newfield’s resignation letter cites the recent repurchase of GRENLEC as an example of what he purports to be the government’s anti-business stance.
Prime minister Mitchell rejoinder in the national affirmative.”If we are considered to be anti-business / anti-investor because we have decided that GRENLEC, our national security asset, the only electricity service in the country, must be influenced, not necessarily owned, but influenced by the government and people of this country, I am proud to be anti-business and I’m sure other members of the government would be extremely proud as well.”
The other example cited is the Rex Grenadian Hotel. Prime minister Mitchell affirmed that “the government never attempted to purchase the hotel, nor is it in the plans. In fact, the property has been developed by Royalton Luxury Resorts.”
On account of government cognizance, prime minister Mitchell described the former ambassador’s resignation “as a preemptive move because he had been warned that he would be stripped of his diplomatic status.”
Prime minister Mitchell, with the utmost confidence in Grenada’s CBI programme, affirmed, “the brand is strong and continues to do well, and the number of applications are increasing.”