Attorney General Justin Simon QC, repeated the words of the privy Council at his Nedd Memorial Lecture in July 2007, “…The site (Half Moon Bay Resort) is valuable, and there is no doubt that a developer who has access to funds can expect to make money from it. Aquisition for the purpose of transferring it to a private developer who would use it for his own profit is not inconsistent with its being for a public purpose…”
Forthcoming changes to Antigua's legal and tax systems will create further disincentives for foreign direct investment.
According to the Attorney General, these changes will be far-reaching. These include requirements as part of any investment proposal to present “acceptable” business and marketing plans together with a formal obligation to train local applicants to assume top administrative and executive positions in the development as part of any investment proposal.
Antigua & Barbuda has encouraged other Caribbean nations to follow the new model and also to disallow purchase and ownership of property except by nationals.
Such investment interference exposes potential investors to political nepotism and financial seepage.
Antigua already has a land-holding licence system for foreigners, which requires investors to obtain State approval; the new policy will now force all foreign shareholders of companies owning land to obtain individual land-holding licences as well.
Should shares be sold or transferred to third parties in the new dispensation, further land-holding licences and approvals of new shareholders will be required. The sale or transfer of shares will also attract taxation, although the rate has not been established at this stage.
The new Government of Antigua & Barbuda has also established the Antigua and Barbuda Investment Authority to approve projects and their developers.
This new entity has also been given the discretion to dispense waivers and concessions to encourage certain developers and their investments. Given the country's history and reputation for corruption and mal-governance, this body now presents a further financial and political barrier to legitimate investment, transparency and any likelihood of the promised level playing field.