Sun | Oct 21, 2018

Our citizenship has few benefits

Published:Wednesday | August 13, 2014 | 12:00 AM


Perhaps next time The Gleaner wholeheartedly throws support behind an idea such as economic citizenship ('Citizenship on sale', August 12, 2014), greater thought will be given to it and the reason why it works.

It has worked in the United States, United Kingdom, and other major economic centres because of the advantages of citizenship in those countries, such as excellent health-care access and, in some instances, significant health-care subsidy and tax advantages.

Closer to home, it thrives in Dominica, where its citizens can travel visa-free to more than 80 countries. St Kitts & Nevis, similarly, offers visa-free travel to more than 80 countries, and in Antigua & Barbuda, one doesn't need a visa to travel to some 118 countries. Citizens of Grenada, which also saw benefits from this programme until it was discontinued in 2001, also benefit from visa-free travel to more than 80 countries.

The draw of these programmes in the islands where economic citizenship thrives is primarily the benefit of visa-free travel to major countries such as the UK, Schengen territories, and Canada.

Given the visa restrictions on Jamaica, where its citizens have visa-free travel to fewer than 45 countries, with none of them being the UK, Schengen territories or Canada, it is unlikely that such a programme will take off. Economic citizenship, as it is practised in the Caribbean, is really a one-stop shop for a passport that has global access, especially to countries where there are major financial centres.

Perhaps, you can have a rethink, as well as whichever government that is thinking that this is a real prospect for boosting Jamaica's ailing economy.