Archive for the ‘The Economy’ Category

PM defends giving Dave Ames citizenship By Kenton X. Chance (I-Witness News)

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves on Monday defended his administration’s granting citizenship to investors such as Dave Ames of Buccament Bay Resort.

Gonsalves, who has ministerial responsibilities for citizenship matters, suggested that Ames was granting citizenship because of his investment here but maintained that it is not economic citizenship.

Dave Ames

“I don’t know whether it has crossed some persons minds, but when a person invests substantially in a country, … it is also in some ways helpful for the country itself to give that person citizenship,” Gonsalves said at a press briefing in response to a reporter’s question.

“Let’s say there is a conflict. Foreign government can’t come and say ‘But look at how you are dealing with my citizen.’ And you say, ‘What you mean your citizen? Its my citizen,’” he further stated.

“So anybody who cannot see the difference between citizenship granted under the general law and an economic citizenship where you actually pay upfront — this is not a basis of anybody paying upfront for anything, this is a basis of somebody making an important contribution in the country. It is as simple as that,” he further said.

Gonsalves’ defence of Ames’ citizenship comes even as Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace and other citizens question the difference between citizenship granted to Ames and economic citizenship advocated by the New Democratic Party (NDP).

(Read also: How did Buccament Bay investor Dave Ames obtain Vincentian citizenship?)

Shortly after coming to office in 2001, Gonsalves’ Unity Labour Party (ULP) administration rescinded the economic citizenship programme instituted by the NDP.

He has since vehemently opposed such a programme and has likened it to selling passport which he describes as “the outward sign of the inner grace” that is citizenship – “the highest office in the land”.

Gonsalves said that he has never criticised the NDP for granting citizenship under the general law, which provides for persons to become Vincentian by birth or through descent, marriage, naturalisation, and residence plus contribution.

Ralph Gonsalves

“I’m not going to discuss why a particular person has been granted citizenship as against somebody else. In other words, I am not individualizing this,” he said, adding that he did not want applicants to feel that their application could be the subject of a public discussion involving the Prime Minister.

He said that under the NDP’s economic citizenship programme, a person paid for citizenship and then invested. “… they were actually selling the citizenship, selling the passport,” Gonsalves said.

But, according to Gonsalves, under his government, investors are granted citizenship under different circumstances.

“… they did not obtain their citizenship under an economic citizenship programme. They had come to the country, residing, visiting, made their investment, and after the passage of a number of years, they say ‘We would like to be citizens’ because they have put down a number of resource here or in some case they have lived here a number of years.

“And then, that application, made in the normal way — not in any especial way under any economic citizenship programme — is considered by the minister responsible for citizenship, which is the prime minister. And if Mr. Eustace cannot see a difference between economic citizenship and that, then I am real sorry for him…” Gonsalves said.

Ames’ company, which began operating here around 2006, has invested about EC$400 million at Buccament Bay.

Gonsalves said that someone residing here for 10 years might not be granted citizenship but temporary residence.

“And then somebody again would be there for a shorter period of time, who has made an important contribution and you give them citizenship,” he said.

How did Dave Ames become a Vincentian? By Amor Rodney

Ralph Gonsalves (left) and Dave Ames (right)

In a story published in one of SVG’s local newspaper, it was revealed that Mr Dave Ames, one of the principals in Harlequin Properties, the developers of the associated with the Buccama Bay Resorts, is now a citizen of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. If this is indeed so, then I think it was a good move on the part of the government to grant a Vincentian passport to Mr Ames.

After all, the gentleman has done a lot for the economy of this country and he has great plans to do even more. It therefore stands to reason that Ames’ activities would be made less challenging for him as a citizen.

Even as support the granting of citizenship to Mr Ames, some questions arise out of the situation. For instance

  1. What criteria was used by the authorities to grant citizenship for a foreign national who is not normally resident in St. Vincent and the Grenadines?
  2. Which of the conditions as laid down in the constitution and applicable legislation did Ames meet satisfy in order to be granted citizenship?
  3. For how long has Ames been a citizen?
  4. How long did it take from the point of application to the actual granting of citizenship?
  5. Is there a fast track to citizenship in SVG?
  6. Could Ames be classified as an economic citizen?
  7. Are there any others who were granted citizenship under similar conditions to those of Mr Ames?
  8. Does Mr Ames’ status signal a turn around in the government’s position regarding economic citizenship?
  9. Does the prime minister owe the country an explanation?
  10. Has the NDP’s position been vindicated?

We must welcome David Ames as a citizen of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. He does have a great deal to offer this country. However, given circumstances in which his status was revealed; given the position of the government against the so call economic citizenship program; it is only reasonable to expect a full explanation regarding the conditions under which Mr Ames is now the bearer of a Vincentian passport.

Mr Ames, welcome to St. Vincent and the Grenadines! May your endeavour be forever profitable!

Amor Rodney

Is there a scandal brewing at Buccama Bay Resorts?

The recently established Buccama Bay Resorts in St. Vincent is perhaps among the most beautiful of its kind in all of  the tropics. Built and marketed as a five star resort, by all accounts Buccama has lived up to this billing. Guests from all over the world have rated the facility and the service highly. The Vincentian workers in particular have come in for high praises for the quality of the services provided.

Despite the image of beauty, tranquility and luxury presented at Buccama, an ugly reality lurks behind the facade. Some observers say that it is only a matter of time before this erupts into one of the biggest scandals in the Caribbean. As such the developers and their associates have come under intense scrutiny.

Unpaid bills; unpaid workers; off the book transactions; bribery; and bogus claims being made to unsuspecting investors are among the activities being unearthed at the Buccama Bay Resorts. The principals associated with the companies involved in Buccama have questionable credentials and investors are beginning to ask questions.

Local journalists and media houses are reluctant to report on the activities of the developers. Government authorities are prepared to ignore the myriad of complaints that come daily from suppliers, contractors and workers. In the mean time it appears as if a massive fraud is being perpetrated by the developers at the Buccama Bay Resorts in St. Vincent.

Are the investors being screwed? Is the government in league with disreputable foreigners? Are they ignoring the cries of the workers? At what price should this country embrace foreign investors with questionable credentials?

Who benefited from Millenium Bank in SVG?

Wise's Villa in SVG?

We at Vinci Kallaloo discovered some interesting comments in response to a story on the Millenium Bank issue. It was written since February 17  2009 under the caption: Is Millennium Bank Too Good to Be True? by Adrienne Carter.

One of the comments that caught our attention reads as follows:

How come nobody mentions the fact that the acting CEO for several years have been Mr Marcus Ballantyne the eldest son of the Governor General Sir Frederick Ballantyne?

The GG is appointed by the Queen of England. The same Ballantyne family (millionaires)are representing several other offshore banks from their “financial complex” in Kingstown. Mr Wise spent at least two full years living in a cottage rented full time all year round from the GG Ballantyne’s 5 star resort Young Island. Only after the place got burglarized twice did he move out.

Renting the cottage for 500 USD per night is an easy way to say “thank you” without getting any problems. The resort that Wise built up is on land leased from another filthy rich family – the Hadleys. They now have taken control over the resort where mr Wise have spent millions of dollars building a restaurant, a swimming pool, several luxury villas etc and had 140 staff employed.

The Hadleys now just say “thank you” while the government looks the other way and add property bought with stolen money to their wealth. And how many hundreds of thousands of dollars – or millions – have gone down into the pocket of the Governor General and his family?

Another, more lengthy and even more interesting, reads as follows:

Re: Millennium

Poor, miserable Wise! Wise is not in it alone but he is paying the price alone. Some of the same people in high places with some of the same greed and dishonest intentions have already abandoned him.

They now saying they wanted to get rid of him ages ago. Big lie! Those parasites are looking for new prey as I write.

Right now, Wise is holed up in his(? ask Victor Hadley, former CEO of National Properties Ltd.) property in SVG with no ‘Friends’. He came back to SVG for refuge, and the same people who he helped to get into high office and who helped to get him where he is right now, have abandoned him. No joke, he is the loneliest man in St. Vincent right now.

Meanwhile, ‘they’ up with the best of the rest. Some even representing the Queen. Do you understand what I am saying? Wise help to get them into office and this is what they have done to him after they have sucked him and his investors dry.

So he has to take the rap alone? That’s BS! This must not stop with Wise. All of the rest of the criminals still out there who are a part of this crap scheme to rip off innocent people, must go down as well. They must be held responsible for their actions also.

So the authorities must circumvent the so called Auditors (KPMG) the local authorities have put in charge, as well as the security detail (Guardsman). None of them are likely to work in the interest of honesty and integrity. Their job is to hide evidence that would implicate more of the real culprits.

Enough said!

These comments do raise some eye brows. The question is: is there need for an investigation into Wise’s connections, relations and activities in St. Vincent. If so, what would they reveal?

Eustace blasts Gonsalves address!

Gonsalves Budget Adddress 2012, his best ever!

Dr Ralph E. Gonsalves - Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines

As I write this post, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves is presenting his 2012 Budget Address. Needless to say, I am absolutely enthralled! This has to be the best budget speech ever made by the PM since assuming office. I take this opportunity to extend sincerest congratulations to Dr Gonsalves on an excellent job.

In the meantime, look out for the nay sayers! They will do and say everything they can to discredit the PM. But, I believe that every rational Vincentian who listended to this address in its entirety will agree that the PM was at his best.

I consider the presentation by the PM this year to be well organized; very detailed; quite comprehensive; crystal clear; and highly responsive to the issues confronting the country at this time.

As a Vincentian, the Prime Minister has made me very proud today!

It would be interesting to hear the responses from the benches of the opposition, especially that of the Leader of the Opposition.

Will SVG be ever ready for Royal Caribbean’s Vision of the Seas?

Vision of the Seas

Vision of the Seas

St. Vincent and the Grenadines has been included in Royal Caribbean’s Vision of the Seas’ itinerary for its 2012-13 cruise season. On the face of it, this is perhaps great news for all stakeholders in the tourism sector. But, given the conditions in this country, one wonders if we will ever be ready to host a visit by this huge luxury cruise liner.

It is interesting to note that since the Vision of the Seas was launched on May 02, 1998, St. Vincent is appearing on its itinerary for the first time. Neighbouring ports such as Bridgetown, Castries, and St. Georges have all received visits. More than likely, St. Vincent will receive a visit in 2013, that is 15 years after the ship was launched! Why did it take so long for SVG to be included on the itinerary?

Now that Royal Caribbean has decided to put this country on its itinerary for a visit by the Vision of the Seas, will the country be ready? What can the thousands of visitors expect to experience in Kingstown?

We will attempt to address these questions in a subsequent post.

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