The National Democratic Congress (NDC) one of Grenada’s leading political organization is calling on the Prime Minister led ruling New National Party (NNP) amend the laws governing the Citizen by Investment (CBI) Programme.
This call came in the face of recent development surrounding an Al Jazeera report linking Caribbean politicians including Grenada to the corrupt trade practices including the sales of Diplomatic passports under the programme
Speaking to members of the media during a press conference on Monday Public Relation Officer of NDC Claudette Joseph who was at the time accompanied Former Prime Minister Tillman Thomas put forward a number of proposals beckoning government to address with some level of urgency, moves to bring about changes to the existing laws governing the CBI programme.
According to Joseph, in its present state, the Programme has too many loopholes, that can easily be abused by undesirable element.
Among the proposed changes put forward by the NDC, through it PRO is: An amendment to the law to make it a criminal offence punishable by long jail time for anyone found guilty of the sale of Diplomatic Passports, Mandatory disclosure of identity to include names addresses and country of origin of all persons seeking and obtaining CBI status, Make illegal for Government official to invest in CBI approved projects, Stringent due-diligence not influence by politicians for persons applying for CBI status, A switch in powers afforded to the Minister under whose Ministry that programme falls, into the hands of a CBI Board. The NDC is also proposing that persons acquiring passport under that programme be denied that opportunity to vote under the law. Joseph noted that since becoming part of the Grenadian landscape, the programme has gone through several changes however in its present form, it is still not serving the best interest of the people for which it was intended. Joseph said NDC holds the view that presently, the Minister calls the shot, he gets to decide who gets on the programme and who doesn’t and this she said should be a board decision.
Joseph said to give its illegality, particularly as it relates to the sales of Diplomatic passport Joseph said monies collected from that transaction cannot be logged into the country’s consolidated funds, and there is no telling where and who has control of those monies.
In a statement delivered to the media during Monday’s press conference NDC’s PRO Joseph, lending her party’s voice to the recent Al Jazeera report, accused the ruling administration of once again embracing corrupt practices through the sales of diplomatic passport, to gain unfair advantage at the polls and finance various projects thus ensuring their party remains in government.
Joseph said the present situation is hurting the image of Grenada and costing taxpayers millions of dollars and there cannot be allowed to continue.
In light of that report, Joseph said the NDC is calling on the powers that be to conduct a public inquiry into the matter and make public all finding available to the people. Grenadians she said need to know how many and who are the people holding their passports.
Joseph said if the programme must go ahead, it must be clean and transparent and therefore calls on the Government seek best practice in moving forward.