The western world’s growing export is investor category visas

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Pradip Rodrigues

In the days of colonialism it was the practice to export raw materials from the colonies only to be shipped back as finished products.

These days western nations are more likely to attract raw immigrants seeking a mostly elusive American Dream or Canadian lifestyle but end up having a compromised version of it. But a large percentage of these immigrants will collectively drain millions of dollars out of their third-world countries and inject it into western economies.

Realizing that there is a significant number of dollar millionaires and billionaires in these countries seeking a safe haven for themselves and their families, western nations have for a while now been creating schemes to bring in so-called investors which is nothing short of selling them residency and eventual citizenship in exchange for a portion of their wealth.

So you have the spectre of unsavoury elements who have the ability to wipe their criminal records in their home countries clean, thanks to their ill-gotten wealth and slip into Canada where they can enjoy the high life.

In while in the days of colonization, the colonisers drained resources and wealth from their colonies, now they are draining hundreds of millions of dollars through its people.

For example corrupt tycoons and businessmen from Angola and Brazil, both former Portuguese colonies have bought into Portugal’s “golden resident permit” program big time. Under this scheme, investors invest €500,000 (C$ 830,979) in property in exchange for permanent residency. Five years later residency can be converted to citizenship, granting investors the right to live and work throughout Europe under EU rules.

And Portugal isn’t the exception, they’ve learnt from the masters of visa exports- the UK, France and Belgium.

Western nations that are increasingly grappling with population decline and long-term economic stagnation eye cheap labor from third-world countries and members of the wealthy class to ‘invest’ in exchange for residency. In the old days despotic rules would seek asylum in another country when things went south, these days despots, the ruling class and business communities of in unstable regions are more likely to purchase citizenship for themselves and family members in safe western nations.

This is a marriage made in heaven, they are looking for clean air, water and safety, not jobs. Jobs are limited in number and those available to minorities often pay less. Study after study has shown that minorities in Canada for example earn less than their white Canadian counterparts. A study conducted in 2011 showed that a Canadian-born visible minority man earned about 18 per cent less than a Canadian-born white man with similar education and experience. So you get the drift here. But immigrants aren’t complaining because often from where they’ve come, even this is a giant leap. And it works out well for western nations including Canada happy to have both human capital and financial capital.

Most developed countries have got into this legalized visa racket. These “Golden Visas,” allow investors to invest either in a new or existing local business, or in property, or by creating local jobs with the caveat that they show they are not laundering money.

For example Portugal and Spain will speed residency applications to people buying properties worth €500,000. In Cyprus, the price is €300,000; Beleaguered Greece with its moribund economy, demands only €250,000. The small island of Malta was publicizing a fast-passport scheme for €650,000. Not to be left out of the action is Bulgaria is luring investors by offering citizenship for a £150,000 investment. Needless to say there are more than enough takers for these schemes.

Canada has had these programs for a while now and a fair number of investors have installed their families in million dollar homes and are back to work and make serious money in either the Middle-east, China, India and Africa.

In 2014 the then ruling conservatives cancelled its investor program after finding that over a 20 years, an average millionaire immigrant investor paid nearly $100,000 less in taxes than a live-in caregiver.

All an immigrant investor needed to qualify was a net worth of $1.6-million and lend Ottawa $800,000 interest-free for five years. When the program was halted, there was a backlog of 65,000 people.

But provinces continue to run their own investor schemes. So you still have investors flowing in through the provincial investor programs in force in Quebec and Saskatchewan and Ontario for example.

In Mississauga I recently visited a luxury condo filled with mostly women and children, the men of the house were at work- in the middle-east or some other foreign country. They happily visit every four or five months and enjoy the high life. The parking lot is filled with high-end Lamborghinis and BWWs and it is quite possible that these ‘investors’ pay less tax than most Canadian residents yet receive free healthcare, subsidized or free education for their children and declare the bare minimum income if any.

In Vancouver many of the residents of multi-million dollar homes are students and housewives with no known source of income.

The fact that the average Canadian earns $40,000 annually while the elite from around the world get to enjoy our taxpayer-funded infrastructure and social programs including education and healthcare should really be quite a scandal.

It would if most Canadians bothered to read the little that is ever written about these issues. You certainly won’t see this denounced by columnists and commentators in most mainstream media outlets. With this knowledge government after government can get away with these cash-for-citizenship schemes and in the process devalue its citizenship. What happens is that naturalized Canadian passport-holders who happen to be brown and black immigrants are not given the same respect as their white counterparts when traveling abroad. Naturally then continuing this scheme or racket as some call it doesn’t threaten white privilege both their home countries and when they travel abroad on work or pleasure.

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