Reacting to last week’s references to Antigua & Barbuda in the US State Department’s Report on Human Rights for 2020, which noted shortcomings in the transparency for the country’s citizenship by investment program, Prime Minister Gaston Browne accused the US of wanting to “kill” the program.
“It seems as though they don’t want us to operate the CIP, so they want to kill it,” Browne told the Antigua Observer, adding that he wanted “to tell them, if they kill it, it might not be as bad for Antigua and Barbuda because the CIP did not contribute any more than 10 percent of our total revenue prior to Covid.”
PM Browne, one of the Caribbean’s most vocal critics of the manner in which Washington, the OECD, and the EU treats CBI jurisdictions, said that if the US gets its way (i.e. by killing the programs), they would “destabilize an otherwise stable region”. Such destabilization, he continued, would manifest itself in exacerbated regional poverty, which, in turn, would drive increases in human- and drug trafficking, money laundering, and more economic refugees from the region flowing to the US and other advanced economies.
Last week’s report mentioned PM Browne personally, pointing out that he had not refuted the “public and specific” allegations of corruption levied against him by his own party affiliates.
The PM said the US State Department had reached such conclusions by relying on “hearsay”, calling the report’s allegations an “uninformed, knee-jerk reaction to a perceived threat that does not rise to the level of undermining or destroying the programs.”
PM Browne also came to the defense of fellow regional CIPs mentioned in the same report:
“They attacked St Kitts and Dominica too. And they do that so often I don’t even know what to say. But anytime they kill it, countries like Dominica and St Kitts, their economies will be decimated and they will plunge tens of thousands of people into poverty and then you end up with so many social ills.”
It is not the first time PM Browne employs strong language to denounce rich countries’ habit of pressuring Caribbean states over their CIPs:
- Antigua PM: Are Caribbean CIPs Under Assault Because They Compete With European Ones?
- US “More and More Hostile” Toward Caribbean Countries Says Antigua PM in Response to Money Laundering Accusations
- PM: Antigua Will Amend Laws to “Keep Out of the Crosshairs of the OECD”
- Antigua PM Lambasts CIP-Critics, SKN PM Urges Emphasis on Harmonization
- Antigua PM Browne Chastises Rich Countries For “Undermining Development” of Small States by De-Risking
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