The New Today


CBI comes with a big downside

It seems the CBI programme is constantly in the news – and usually for the problems it has created rather than the benefits it has brought.

In an article earlier this month (Now Grenada 8 November 2022), Brian Samuel commented in some depth on the CBI situation in the context of a marketing meeting organised by the self-appointed trade body based in Switzerland:

It was reported by government that CBI had generated EC$112m in the most recent 9 months for which data was available. That’s the upside. But was anyone at this meeting concerned with the downside?

First, Grenada’s reputation has been trashed. The world sees a desperate little country taking bribes, pandering to dubious foreign individuals and displaying weak financial probity and due diligence. Who wants to invest there?

Shady individuals and shady businesses looking to take the CBI money – and criminals. And no matter what Mr. Duncan, CBI Chairman says, the world does not differentiate between Grenada selling passports and Grenada selling diplomatic passports. And we know where that has led. The US, UK and EU are moving to close down this easy entry to their countries by the back door.

Second, CBI money has been used to start hotel developments most of which are highly dubious and unlikely to be completed. It’s not just CBI’s lack of proper vetting of passport applicants but also lack of vetting of the hotel developers receiving the applicant’s money.

All of the five big proposed hotels projects are in court. Four of them have no clear planning consent to build anything! CBI is implicated in the selling of hotel rooms and apartments that are as yet not legal and may never be. Who will customers sue when what they bought into doesn’t exist?

It will rebound on government of course where shady developers have disappeared leaving us with destruction and, sometimes, concrete shells in prime nature areas.

We have twice drawn CBI’s attention to these risks but have not been blessed with a response.

If the NDC government really needs to continue with selling our passports we need a proper meeting please at which these issues can be discussed openly and hearing views against as well as from the vested interests of the CBI industry responsible for the meeting reported on by Mr Samuel – the Investment Migration Council, a self-appointed trade body based in Switzerland whose objective is to promote CBI programmes and make money for its members.

Mr Samuel suggests that if Grenada has to continue with selling passports it should charge a great deal more and reduce the number sold – and the property development component should be dropped completely.

As it stands, CBI is a licence for shady foreign developers to despoil our natural assets using other people’s money with nothing stopping them siphoning off most of it. And there is no assurance that they will complete what they start and no effective redress if they don’t. Just more liability and risk for Grenada.

Submitted by the Coral Cove Group