The poorly performing Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) is up by 20 per cent for November when compared to the past few months.
The programme has been declining since Canada removed visa-free status for Antigua and Barbuda passport holders, and the government has been attempting to come up with innovative ways to stem the drop in applications.
Charmaine Quinland-Donovan, the programme’s chief executive officer (CEO) said September was a challenging month for the programme.
She said the passage of the hurricane played a role in reduced applications. According to her, emails were quickly sent out and during participation at several international forums marketing partners were notified that Antigua was not impacted by hurricanes Irma and Maria and was open for business and accepting applications for citizenship.
“I think for a very short period, a very brief period, persons thought that Antigua was also affected, but immediately thereafter we sent out emails to our stakeholders externally and international stakeholders to let them know that we are open for business. We have not been affected, we are open for business.
“Because of the displacement of travel, flights, courier services we saw a slight dip in the submission of applications in September. In October we saw it coming back up, and as I said earlier in November we are actually seeing much more than we have seen in the past few months. I would dare say 20 per cent more than what we have been seeing in the past few months,” Quinland-Donovan said on Antigua Today.
Quinland-Donovan said this year has been a slower year when compared to 2016 which she blamed on what was occurring in the market with competition from St Lucia and a re-branded programme in Grenada within the last two years.
“I think this really affected our programme to some extent, but with the reduction in the processing fees, particularly we saw that we were doing ourselves an injustice competitively because when we look at our processing fees compared to the rest of the region we were way higher, and we were pricing ourselves out of the market, so there was the adjustment with the processing fees initially, and then now that we have reduced the investment amount for the National Development Fund (NDF), we are seeing a lot more interest in the programme,” added the CEO.
She said the prospects for growth with CIP applications for December is looking well.