Category Archives: Special Features

Ten individuals receive national honours

Businessmen Martin Ellis Franklin and George Ryan have been conferred with Knighthoods.

The two, one of whom is well known to the Antigua and Barbuda public were bestowed these honours during the country’s ceremonial parade on Independence Day.

George Ryan, the most of the two, was recognised for his contribution to business and community service and received the Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of the Nation (KCN).

In his citation, the speaker noted that Ryan has assisted in the construction of several government buildings which are still standing today.

He was born in Montserrat and at the age of 16 moved to Antigua where he later would establish himself as a construction tycoon, building a number of churches and schools in Antigua and Barbuda.

AUDIO – Ryan on knighthood

Meanwhile, Franklin was awarded the Knight Grand Cross of the Nation (KGCN) for his contribution to economic development, heritage restoration, business and community service.

Among his achievements is donating two million dollars to the restoration of the Government House, one million dollars of his own money to the Barbuda efforts and making available annual scholarships for Antiguans and Barbudans.

Franklin who is an economic envoy for the county is also responsible for the total restoration and refurbishment of the Fiennes institute donating a whopping three million dollars.

AUDIO – Franklin on knighthood

The knighthood is Antigua and Barbuda’s second highest award. Only the National Hero award is above it.

Meanwhile, health officials Chief Medical Officer Dr Rhonda Sealey Thomas and Dr Dane Abbott were among the ten nationals who were awarded honours at the ceremonial parade on Thursday.

The CMO and Gynecologist Dr. Abbott were conferred the honour of Officer of the Most Illustrious Order of Merit (OM) for contributions in healthcare. That same honour was awarded to now Educator and Principal of the Princess Margaret Secondary School Dr. Colin Greene and Lornette King-Francis of the Girl’s Brigade an educator for more than 40 years.

The other awardees included; Hotelier Robert “Rob” Barrett he is now Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of the Nation (CN), for his contribution in the field of tourism and community service; while Janet Oliver Bachelor-Francis and Eileen Vanessa Francis, were named Officers of the Most Precious Order of Princely Heritage (OH).

Bachelor Francis for her contribution to cultural development and community service and Francis for her contribution to music.

Changes to Advanced Passenger Bill 2018 passes in Lower House

The Advanced Passenger Amendment Bill 2018 has made it pass the committee stage of the Lower House and is heading to the Senate for approval.

The legislation is intended to harmonise how passenger information is shared with OECS and CARICOM States, with a view to identifying persons who may pose risks to the security of the individual islands.

Changes to the 2016 Bill, after the Legal Affairs Committee of the OECS conducted a review of the 2016 act.

Immigration Minister, E.P Chet Greene says the amendments change the description of a watch list and the competent authority responsible for giving information on the movements of criminals including terrorists and criminal deportees.

Captains, masters or agents of any (private or commercial) aircraft/vessel now have the responsibility to pass on passenger information on passengers who threaten border security.

AUDIO – Chet on passenger bill(1)

The amendment will also make it an offence for a passenger to intentionally refuse to give up information when asked by the competent authorities.

As part of the changes, any order made by the Minister to amend the law will require a negative resolution to both houses of parliament.

AUDIO – Chet on passenger bill(2)

The changes are expected to better manage the maritime and air spaces in the region.

Antigua and Barbuda Level Up In Global Passport Power Ranking

According to the latest results of the Henley Passport Index, Antigua and Barbuda has climbed the Global Passport Ranking to a score of 149— up one point compared to Q3.

The small island state ranked 2nd in the Eastern Caribbean region, securing the 27th place globally, with visa-free/visa-on-arrival.

On the whole, Eastern Caribbean countries far outperform their peers in the greater Caribbean region: Jamaica, for example, is ranked 61st, Dominican Republican is ranked 75th, Cuba is ranked 76th, and Haiti is ranked 89th. The main differentiator is access to the Schengen Area, which all the Eastern Caribbean states enjoy.

Holders of the Antiguan passport enjoy visa free travel to 150 destinations, including the UK and the countries of the Schengen area.

Commenting on the recent findings, Gaye Hechme, Director of Henley & Partners Antigua and Barbuda, says:

We are pleased that our passport power continues to climb and compete against major global states. While we celebrate this small milestone, we must however, increase our efforts to score higher, in order to benefit from the opportunities attached to passport power.”

She added: I am confident that Henley and Partners, together with Antigua and Barbuda’s CIP Unit will continue to create further international ties to strengthen our passport power.”

St. Kitts holds the strongest passport in the Eastern Caribbean region, and the 26th strongest passport in the world, with 151 destinations accessible visa-free or with a visa on arrival. Saint Lucia has climbed from 142 in Q3 to 146 , ranking 3rd in the Eastern Caribbean region and 31st worldwide.

Grenada’s score has risen from 141 to 144, and the Grenadian passport is currently the 33rd strongest in the world. At the bottom of the Eastern Caribbean regional ranking is Dominica, which sits in 37th place globally.

Human traffickers face up to one million in fines

Human traffickers and those who facilitate the offence can face up to 20 years in prison, and one million dollars in fines, once an amendment to the Trafficking in Persons Prevention (Amendment) Bill has been passed in the Senate.

This was the first law to be debated when members of the Lower House met this morning (Thursday). The Bill successfully made it pass the committee stage, with little debate and no objections.

During his contribution to the bill, Attorney General Steadroy Benjamin explained that it is intended to impose fines and lengthy sentences on individuals found trafficking persons to and from Antigua and Barbuda.

AUDIO – AG on trafficking 1

Once a person is convicted of the offence, they face a fine of up to $400,000 AND up to 20 years in prison.

The Attorney General went on to explain the other changes that are to be made to the law on human trafficking.

AUDIO – AG on trafficking 2

In the law, there are also special penalties when the trafficked person is a child. The fine for such an offence is a fine of up to one million dollars and a prison sentence for up to 25 years.

This also applies in cases where minors are held against their will for sexual purposes.

Benjamin says the act also speaks to the offence of debt bondage.

AUDIO – AG on trafficking 3

A person who fails to give a police officer, conducting a search, access to computerised data can be charged, and if convicted, can be jailed for two years and pay a fine of $50,000.

Fines will also be imposed on individuals who move trafficked persons to escape the law. These individuals, upon conviction, face five years in jail and a fine of $150,000.

A person who has no lawful authority, but discloses information he acquires in the course of his duties, will face similar penalties with a fine of $10,000, if their disclosure leads to the identification of a trafficked person or witness.

This includes persons who work as investigators in various cases.

The original bill on human trafficking was passed in 2010.

Other bills including; the Sentence Reform Bill, the Drug Court Treatment and Rehabilitation of Offenders Bill, the Criminal Procedure Amendment Bill and the Advanced Passenger Information Amendment Bill were read for the first time today (Thursday).

Antigua and Barbuda among 21 countries black listed in an OECD report

Antigua and Barbuda’s Citizenship by Investment Programme has landed itself among 21 so called golden passport countries, which have been identified as a threat to international efforts to combat tax evasion.

In its October 16th report, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) gave an analysis of over 100 residence and citizenship by investment schemes, offered by jurisdictions committed to the OECD/G20 Common Reporting Standard (CRS).

In that very same report it highlighted 21 countries that displayed vulnerabilities in the residency or citizenship programmes.

The OECD says these countries have been specially categorised because they give “access to a low personal income tax rate on offshore financial assets”, and “do not require an individual to spend a significant amount of time in the location offering the scheme”.

The OECD also says persons with a second citizenship can misuse it to hide assets offshore, by escaping reporting.

In particular, Identity Cards and other documentation obtained through CBI/RBI schemes, they say, can potentially be misused to misrepresent an individual’s jurisdiction(s) of tax residence and to endanger the proper operation of the CRS due diligence procedures.

This new listing may well make it even more difficult for Antigua and Barbuda since it was one of several countries in the Caribbean to make it unto this special grouping.

The other country schemes include; Barbados’ Special Entry and Residence Permit, Dominica, St Lucia, Grenada and St Kitts and Nevis’ Citizenship by Investment Programmes, the Economic Residency Programme of Montserrat and The Bahamas Economic Permanent Residency

They have all been referred to as potentially high-risk schemes.

The OECD plans to alert financial institutions on the outcome of its analysis of these schemes.

A number of EU countries also made it unto that list.