Dual Citizenship and Parliament

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Allowing dual citizenship transforms a portion of the population from a financial burden to a resource

GARY HATIGEVA

SINCE it was proposed and drafted, I have been puzzled and trying to understand the concept of dual citizenship and this made me wonder, how many more of our citizens are thinking the same?

To start off, based on in-depth readings and researches, dual citizenship involve the immediate holdings with more than one Citizenship, with each inferring certain rights and responsibilities that would normally adhere to a citizen in each of the individual countries.

These rights and duties apply, in most cases, irrespective of the length of time that the person spends in that particular country or the extent of his or her political, economic or cultural ties.

We have also been asking about the differences between citizenship and nationality so to understand this, let’s take the United Kingdom as an example, which is made up of the ‘home nations’ of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

If you were born and raised in any of the four constituent nations, you are British. If asked your nationality, you would in all likelihood describe yourself as English, Irish, Scottish or Welsh.

The main difference is that citizenship is a political term, drawing its importance from the economic, political and social rights and obligations that come with it.

And one might also ask, why would a government allow one of its citizens to pledge allegiance to another country and remain a citizen?

Well, after all, many of the rights and responsibilities of the second or third citizenship held may lead to a clear conflict of interest. It may mean voting in another country’s elections, running for office or even serving in the armed forces of a potentially hostile country.

And you might also ask, what the economic benefits are for any country, Solomon Islands for that matter and why then do we find that governments are not only tolerant, but in many cases welcoming of this phenomenon?

Researches show that governments do so to harness the energy and financial resources of their geographically dispersed population.

Researchers and specialists have also agreed that Migrant networks influence cross-national ties between homelands and host-lands. They are an economic and political resource, acting as the human face of their homeland.

So, they engage in lobbying, pressuring host governments for different policies that benefit their homeland and through engagement promote their homeland’s interests and become would-be ambassadors.

From these findings, I can or if you care, we can confidently conclude that economically, allowing dual citizenship transforms a portion of the population from a financial burden to a resource.

In October 2013, the World Bank reported that remittances, people sending money back home, totalled up to $414 billion in the developing world and India alone received $71 billion from its citizens living abroad in 2013.

For the individual, moving abroad can either be financial heaven or an absolute nightmare depending on the level of planning that goes into the move.

Dual citizenship can have several distinct advantages including the freedom to travel, the ability to find a better place to settle and perhaps retire.

For the international transient investor there are many considerations. It may allow you to broaden your financial horizons through the expansion of your investment activities and the heightened privacy that it may allow, which depends very much on your personal circumstances, dual citizenship may also be extremely beneficial from a tax-planning perspective.

And that also depends on individual home country’s laws, expatriating can come with a host of financial implications that you must be aware of and successfully navigate early on to avoid the all too common, and potentially costly pitfalls.

Tax considerations alone include remittances, exemptions, double tax treaties, residency and domicile considerations, overseas tests, sufficient ties tests and split year treatment. These in turn will impact inheritance tax, capital gains tax, estate tax, income tax and gift tax back home.

Just like in the case of some of the international footballers with dual citizenship who must decide which country to play for, choosing whether to focus your economic activity in your homeland or host-land throughout your life may turn out to be one of the most important financial decisions you will have to make.

The considerations will vary substantially based on an almost infinite number of very individual factors. If you don’t have the required knowledge, time and inclination to personally manage this financial conundrum, then it may be prudent to consult with a professional adviser.

And as Parliament prepares to meet in two weeks, it is also the cry of our foreign nationals for Parliament to consider the bill and have it become law.

These people were economically forced to give up their Solomon Islands citizenship or rights, which is a trend that continues to see growing stats. Showing more and more of our people are looking to where there are green pastures.

The proposed dual citizenship bill for Solomon Islands was promised to be introduced to Parliament by this year and parliament needs to put prioritisation into its bills. Which bills will have direct and long term positive impacts on our human resources and economy?

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