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Dec 7, 2023

Government Moves to Amend Economic Citizenship Act

Prime Minister John Briceño

During today’s House Meeting, Prime Minister Briceño introduced an amendment to the Economic Citizenship Abolition of Rights Act. The government feels that descendants of persons, who have acquired citizenship before 2014, have continued to apply for citizenship, by using loopholes that exist in the current system.


Prime Minister John Briceño

“The Belize Economic Citizenship Investment Program or the B.C.I.P. was brought to an end in 2001, when we amended the Belize Constitution Fourth Amendment Act in 2001, which prohibit the re-introduction of similar programs.  At the same time, the Belizean Nationality Amendment Act of 2014 repealed the relevant provision in the law, which facilitated economic citizenship by investment. The clear intention of the legislature was to completely abolish economic citizenship in Belize. Regrettably, Madam Speaker, that laudable objection was not achieved. Notwithstanding the 2014 legislation, descendants of persons who received Economic Citizenship prior to 2014  have continued to apply for citizenship by descent, relying on the provision in the Belize Nationality Act that enables descendants to rely on their parents’ nationality to obtain Belizean nationality. Hundreds, if not thousands, have become Belizeans using the procedure since 2014. If that was not bad enough, Madam Speaker, we have noticed that the non-Belizean spouses who marry Belizean citizens have also applied for nationality relying on the provision of the law that entitles a spouse to claim Belizean nationality through marriage. Again, hundreds of persons have taken advantage of this loophole. Madam Speaker, we believe that these loopholes are being abused and used to defeat the intention of this honourable house to abolish economic citizenship. It is our view that persons should not be allowed to rely on loopholes to get around the ban on economic citizenship.”


Mose Shyne Barrow

Mose Shyne Barrow, Leader of the Opposition

“We do not feel that you have the authority to amend the legislation without a constitutional amendment because regardless of how you want to describe the citizens, they are citizens. They are Belizeans and they enjoy those rights. So if it is that you are going to strip Belizeans of those rights that are enshrined, that they enjoy due to our Constitution, then you need to amend the Constitution. The second thing, Madam Speaker, this highlights this government’s infantile form of governance. This in the dark operation where if you would share this information, if you would give us the white papers, if you would give us details beforehand, not a 200-page booklet the day that we come to parliament or the day before, but way in advance. Discuss it with us so that when we have parliamentary caucus, we can go over all of the facts. We can’t do that. We’re in the dark, blindfolded, considering these things. And so then when we come here, we have no choice but to think the worst.”

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