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Oct 23, 2017

No Return for Economic Citizenship or Residency Program

Francis Fonseca

In the House of Representatives last Friday, a total of twelve bills were dealt with over the course of the sitting, several of which were held over from the last sitting in August. One was an amendment to the Immigration Act in respect of temporary residency. It seeks to add the C.E.O. in the Ministry of Labour to the Visa Vetting Committee and clarify the role of the C.E.O. in the Ministry of Home Affairs. But the Opposition raised questions of a return to the days of economic citizenship and residency, especially with the ongoing Senate inquiry, which were answered by the de facto minister, Beverly Williams.

 

Francis Fonseca, Area Rep., Freetown

“Why, at this point, are we tinkering with the Immigration Act to effectively create an economic residency investment program? Is it that we are desperate for money, we are looking for money, why we are selling economic residency? And of course, all of the issues surrounding any such program raise concerns and have raised cause for alarm, quite frankly.”

 

Beverly Williams

Beverly Williams, Area Rep., Belize Rural Central

“As far as we have discussed and we have looked at the Bill in terms of temporary residency, it is not an economic citizenship program. That Bill, there will be regulations to specifically define the criteria for members applying for that. It is, just in my curiosity, as to what we do at the Committee meeting because those matters were ventilated and we ask that we look at the Bill in light of what it is perceived to be doing. Particularly for those investors there would be certain criteria – people who have lived in Belize and have citizenship in more than one country and do not want to get another one, there’s the facility or the provision for temporary residence that would allow them to function within the financial sector in Belize. And so for banking purposes, they have been looking at some backstops in the financial community in terms of moving business forward. On the matter of scanning the passports and permits at the border, that is a matter that is well prescribed for in the law, that the borders are defined in section twenty-three and twenty-four of the Act on the scanning. Immigration’s responsibility also covers border protection, and we look at the risks that could be involved in persons trafficking the border, in and out, with stamping and without. There is the matter of human trafficking, money laundering, and all the other ills that can happen from not manning our border.”

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