Antigua Observer:-The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the country’s Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU) said the processing fees across all the investment options for the programme have been reduced.
At the same time, she has dismissed reports from the opposition and regional media sites which are saying the investment amounts have also been reduced.
In an exclusive interview with OBSERVER media, CEO Charmaine Donovan said, based on the recommendation from the CIU, the Cabinet decided to reduce the processing fees in an effort to increase the competitiveness of Antigua and Barbuda’s CIP.
She said reductions in “processing fees are from US $50, 000 to US $25, 000 for the National Development Fund (NDF) option, up to a family of four and any incremental addition to that family is US$15, 000 per person.”
The processing fee for the real estate and business investment option for a family of four has been lowered to US$50, 000, and similar to the NDF option each incremental addition to that family is US $15, 000.
The investment amount for the NDF option is still US $200,000, the real estate remains at US $400,00 and the business investment is US $1.5 million for one person but if it’s more than one person it’s US $5 million.
“The government was adamant that [it was] not going to reduce the investment amount, [it was] concerned about the race to the bottom. But what has happened, we have a done a study over the CIPs in the region and we have found that our processing fees are by far the highest over all five programmes,” Donovan said.
It was that comparison between the local programme and others in the region which prompted the unit to make the changes which took effect on August 1.
She explained, “We could have passed off the fact that we were a little more expensive because we had visa-free access to Canada. With that not being the case now, we’re actually working on a comprehensive strategy to determine the direction of the programme.”
The CEO added “Of course in this business you need to be competitive in order to attract business and so the thought process was let us reduce the processing fees.”
Donovan said even with the reduction “Our application fees are [still] not the lowest but it’s more competitive.”