The government is looking at the possibility of offering citizenship by investment to foreigners, Minister of Financial Services, Trade and Industry and Immigration Elsworth Johnson said yesterday.
He told reporters outside the Churchill building yesterday that while he can’t speak much about it, it is something the government is at looking for The Bahamas, while seeing whether it worked for other countries.
“Some countries, when we do our comparative analysis, have had a bad experience from it,” Johnson said.
“It is something that we are looking at. No decisions have been made and so right now I’m not able to speak directly to it.”
Johnson’s comments came as he was asked to clarify if he was speaking to citizenship by investment as he went into detail about The Bahamas being able to get more “bang for it it’s buck” with people coming into the country to work and reside.
He continued, “But I’ll tell you there are any number of conglomerates or companies in The Bahamas who have been making the approaches to the ministry saying, ‘listen, can we have a discussion on this?’”
Citizenship by investment is the process of person obtaining a second citizenship and passport by investing in the economy of a country.
In many countries it is considered as a program where citizenship is conferred on an individual much faster than the traditional immigration process.
Some countries that currently offer it include Germany, Portugal, Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, Spain and Malta.
Currently, there is no such program in The Bahamas, leaving foreigners to go through the traditional work permit or permanent residency.
According to Johnson, there are benefits to living and working in The Bahamas, which he said is a reason why foreigners find it so attractive.
However, he added that there’s a need for the country to gain more from such activity.
“I think one of the things we must appreciate as Bahamians is our locality, stable judiciary, stable country, friendly people,” Johnson said.
“In terms of persons wanting to move away from big countries and go into the Family Islands, we present that and they [foreign investors] want that. And we have to get the best bang for the buck and create a symbiotic relationship where we are benefiting just as much as the people who are coming here to The Bahamas.”