Government has plans to restructure and relaunch Saint Lucia’s Citizenship by Investment Program (CIP).
This announcement was made by Prime Minister Allen Chastanet on Wednesday evening during an appearance on News Maker Live with host Timothy Poleon on DBS Television.
Chastanet said, “We are currently reviewing the structure of CIP. We are hoping that by November, we will be able to relaunch CIP. We have a big meeting on Thursday, where we will look at that.”
At present, Saint Lucia’s CIP is divided mainly into three parts, the first being a donation of US$200,000 for a person to get citizenship through an investment. Persons can also invest US$350,000, where the government makes US$50,000 and the investor is allowed to sell the investment after five years. The third option, is where the investor places US$500,000 into a bond and receive zero interest for five years, along with full citizenship.
The prime minister said however that his government is reviewing those three options, and it is also looking at what is happening in the region, because Dominica has now become the dominant leader in selling citizenship.
“But the critical thing here is what is the purpose of all this? What are we trying to do with all of this? My government’s case, is that CIP should be revenue to go directly to the state, in terms of creating investment, reducing debt or helping to pay for social programmes,” Chastanet explained.
But based on the current discussions regarding CIP, the prime minister said his Cabinet is not 100 percent convinced that what Saint Lucia is offering right now can do that.
“We will have a meeting with lawyers and other officials…We have met with major agents from all over the world and we will be having a conference call with them next week,” he added.
When questioned if he is worried that Saint Lucia may have to make its CIP programme more competitive, given recent reports that the Saint Kitts and Nevis government is moving to speed up the application process for investors, Chastanet said it is something to look at.
However, Chastanet said there is need for harmonization, explaining that while some prime ministers in other Caribbean islands have expressed a willingness to do that, some might not be interested.
“We are now trying to compete among ourselves. I just hope that we do not lose sight of the risks,” he said.
The prime minister did admit that other islands are offering more competitive CIP packages, but said at the end of the day, people are primarily looking at the access that the passport can give to them.
Saint Lucia became the fifth Eastern Caribbean nation to introduce CIP in January of this year.
The United States government has warned regional countries offering the CIP, to refrain from issuing “unless the issuing government is confident beyond a reasonable doubt that the individual is a bona fide applicant”.
So far there has been tremendous interest in several projects precisely because of Saint Lucia’s tourism product.