Who's the richest man in Belize? You may say Michael Ashcroft, but according to theRichest.com, in 2011 this man Huang Maoru was the richest Belizean. The website says The resident of Guangdong, Shenzhen, China was worth 1.8 billion in 2011 and amassed his fortune as the Chairman of Maoye International Holdings, which operated 37 department stores in 16 Chinese cities. We don't know that he has invested in Belize or how he got his citizenship - or if he has ever been here, but We found this newsworthy because Wilfred Elrington as Foreign Minister discussed economic citizenship yesterday. He was passionate and here's what he said:
Hon. Wilfred Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs
"Countries internationally have special programs whereby they allow foreigners to get expedited citizenship or residence based on investments which they make in those countries and they do it for two reasons; those people have the capital, those people have the expertise technology and those people have access to markets. So for example when Hong Kong was going back to China there were waves of Chinese from Hong Kong who were admitted to Canada, United States and the United Kingdom."
"My own experience is that people want to come to Belize to live, to do business. It's a beautiful country, they want to come to live, they want to come to do business, they want to invest in the country and if a way could be found to make those people come, it would help us in terms of capital, it will help us in terms of technology, It will also help us in terms of markets."
"Historically we have taken in thousands of people; we took in 40,000 Salvadorians running from the war. We took in thousands of Mennonites in the 1950s coming and we continue to give citizenship to people who walk across legally or illegally. It's a matter that we need to look at rationally. I also think Jules that given our population of 350,000 or 316,000 - that's the last figure I saw - we cannot really have a truly viable developmental program with a population base that is so small, so it is urgent and imperative that we seek to do something to expand our population so that we could have a critical mass to be able to do business viably."
"I think it is high time that we in Belize have a serious debate and dialogue as to what we are going to do to develop our country. I don't think it is healthy for us to continue to live in this poverty stricken state where we can't properly educate our kids - we can't properly provide health for our people - we can't properly secure our nation because absence of resources."
"It is imperative that we take some bold step to put ourselves in a position where we can become a viable, dynamic, vibrant society. We have such tremendous natural resources."
"One of the things I have observed is that you want to drill oil and there are people who are opposing it. You want to drill it on land and you have people who are opposing it. You want to drill it in the sea; you have people who are opposing it. You want to setup a resort, there are people who are opposing it. When in truth and in fact in other develop countries these are the most normal things and these are the things that the develop countries are looking for - they are looking for foreign direct investment. We in Belize seek to spurn every attempt at foreign direct investment. I can't comprehend it. It frustrates me."
In related news, Antigua & Barbuda has recently started selling citizenship to wealthy international investors.
News reports say The twin-island nation of 90,000 residents started accepting applications last week for its citizenship-by-investment program, closely modeled on the one offered by nearby St. Kitts & Nevis.