De­posit in­crease re­stricts pro­gram at wrong time

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - EDITORIAL -

De­spite lin­ger­ing con­tro­versy about past sins, the Pro­vin­cial Nom­i­nee Pro­gram (PNP) con­tin­ues to be an im­por­tant eco­nomic gen­er­a­tor for Prince Ed­ward Is­land. The over­all pro­gram it­self is a good one. There­was de­served crit­i­cism for past in­dis­cre­tions but­the greed of a few should not con­demn a pro­gram that as­sisted the many. Hun­dreds and hun­dreds of Is­land busi­nesses le­git­i­mately ben­e­fit­ted from PNP.It poured hun­dreds of mil­lions into the Is­land econ­omy at a time when it was sorely needed.

The fed­eral-pro­vin­cial pro­gram un­der­went re­form sand tighter con­trols since the 2007 orgy which en­snared the for­mer P.E.I. Lib­eral govern­ment, var­i­ous com­pa­nies and in­di­vid­u­als. P.E.I.’s PNP has been the sub­ject of nu­mer­ous in­ves­ti­ga­tions inthe past, in­clud­ing bythe au­di­torgen­eral and the RCMP. No charges have ever been laid.

While crit­ics re­main ob­sessed with what hap­pened some nine years ago, PNP was re­launched and has qui­etly gone about its busi­ness. It con­tin­ues to at­tract im­mi­grants will­ing toin­vest in this prov­ince in re­turn for fast-track­ing their visa ap­pli­ca­tions to be­come Cana­dian cit­i­zens. And in th­ese cur­rent eco­nomic times, PNP is more im­por­tant than ever to at­tract new im­mi­grants, in­vest­ment and pop­u­la­tion growth.

Soone won­ders whythe prov­ince has de­cided to tin­ker with some key el­e­ments of the pro­gram. The prov­ince has dou­bled the re­quired de­posit or down pay­ment to $200,000. The money is held in es­crow bya pro­vin­cial Crown cor­po­ra­tion and the prov­ince re­tains all in­ter­est ac­crued. Should the im­mi­grant fail to meet cri­te­ria, the prov­ince then gets to keep the en­tire amount.

So one could con­clude that the de­posit was in­creased as a money-grabby the prov­ince. It also places an ex­tra hard­ship on an im­mi­grant who might have cob­bled to­gether all avail­able re­sources tomake that orig­i­nal $100,000 de­posit to come to P.E.I.

The prov­ince ar­gues that de­posits were in­creased to en­sure the best pos­si­ble ap­pli­cants come to P.E.I. through this pro­gram. So only the rich­est im­mi­grants need ap­ply; or more money means a bet­ter im­mi­grant? One could ar­gue that the more money an im­mi­grant has when ar­riv­ing here, the less im­por­tance is placed on a de­posit. It would log­i­cally fol­low that there is a greater like­li­hood that an im­mi­grant is willingly take the fi­nan­cial hit as the cost of get­ting a Cana­dian pass­port and then leav­ing P.E.I. for else­where in Canada as soon as pos­si­ble.

The prov­ince fails to grasp that an im­mi­grant is far more valu­able re­main­ing in the prov­ince and in­vest­ing and build­ing a busi­ness here over the long term, than opt­ing for a quick cash grab of $200,000.

Op­po­si­tion Leader Jamie Fox made an ex­cel­lent point when he noted the prov­ince is try­ing to en­cour­age im­mi­grants to come and in­vest in our in­dus­tries and small busi­nesses yet lim­its the abil­ity of new­com­ers to­have the cap­i­tal to de­velop a busi­ness. It might con­vince im­mi­grants on the fi­nan­cial bub­ble to look at other provinces.

P.E.I. has pock­eted mil­lions in de­faulted PNP de­posits in past years and tar­get­ing im­mi­grants might be an at­temptto pocket even more.

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