Antigua Observer:-The minister of state in the Ministry of Finance has admitted there has been a fall-off in applications for the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP).
Senator Lennox Weston attributes the drop of about 10 per cent to a decrease in demand, but he is optimistic that there could be another boom of investors interested in attaining Antiguan and Barbudan citizenship.
“Yes, it has slowed down, not only in Antigua but in St Kitts, too, and in other territories. It has not dried up, we may have seen a 10 per cent decline but we still have two more months to go. We project that we may have a 10-15 per cent reduction from last year when we had $100 million from it; we may end up with $75, $80 or $85 million,” he said.
The senator, who was a guest on OBSERVER Radio’s Big Issues programme, said the projections do not spell disaster for the country’s economy since there are international factors that could result in growth.
He said the marketing of the desirability of the Antiguan and Barbudan passport should be revised given that the world’s CIP market is large enough.
“You have to look at areas of instability in the world, in terms of where you get your business from, if for example the Middle East stabilises to the point where betting becomes possible, then you will see a boom or if Donald Trump implements some of the policies he touted or wealthy persons who may want multiple status,” he added.
The minister also said that the decline has led to delays in some of the development that should have already started.
Weston noted out of several projects that were heavily dependent on CIP revenue, only four have secured alternative funding.
“Those 10 big hotel projects have not started and so we expect that when they started we will hit out 5 per cent minimum growth which we have set and we would love to edge up to 6 and 7 per cent. We expect them to start next year, they are all ready to go — a couple of course were looking for CIP funds so we are looking alternative funding for those,” he said.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said that the CIP here is slowing