By Davion Smith, BVI News Staff
The National Democratic Party (NDP) government has said it is considering to offer residency or even citizenship to wealthy investors who dump money into the British Virgin Islands.
Premier Dr D Orlando Smith made that announcement in the House Of Assembly on Thursday, June 28.
The Premier described the move as a ‘national trade policy’ to “create an attractive business environment for both domestic and foreign direct investors”.
Dr Smith said under the NDP-sanctioned policy, persons with a ‘substantial business presence’ in the territory, as well as ‘direct investors’ who have a net worth of $100 million, would qualify for immediate residency or, perhaps, citizenship.
He confirmed persons will also qualify for residency if they are employed in a senior management position in a company with a substantial business presence in the BVI, or if they have ‘independent means/wealth’.
While answering questions from Opposition member Julian Fraser, Dr Smith said persons with independent means would include retirees with a net worth of $25 million or more.
But, the NDP policy did not sit well with Fraser who said the Premier Smith administration was “selling citizenship”.
In response, Premier Smith chuckled and he denied the claim.
“We are not selling citizenship. This is not what it is all about. This is encouraging people to invest in the territory. And I would not like to believe that if someone invests $100 million in the territory, we would not want to allow them to come to the territory undisturbed, or give them some form of residency; whether it is for a certain number of years,” Premier Smith said.
However, Fraser fired back stating he was dissatisfied with the Premier’s rationale.
“I have a difficulty with that answer because this is not something that just happened,” Fraser said. “We have been around for years, we never thought about doing something like this.”
Other countries are doing it too
He then questioned whether the policy was a means of diversifying the BVI’s financial services sector, which is said to be under threat from the United Kingdom’s controversial public registers mandate on the BVI.
Dr Smith answered stating the move is a ‘diversification of the British Virgin Islands’.
“Every other country in the world is doing it. And it is something that, if you want people to invest [and] put their hard earned money into your country’s development, they would expect to be able to reside where they are making this investment.”
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