St. Lucia has just about had enough of those dark clouds that are increasingly hovering over our island. But more painful is when politicians we elect and entrust with the power to correctly perform, are themselves the ones unleashing the disrespect, disappointment and shame.
So transparency, accountability and due diligence will be empty words unless our high officials are persons with a commitment and sincerity to act with integrity in conducting the nation’s business. More importantly they must be left alone to act within the guidelines of their official mandates and the dictates of their professional conscience.
They should not feel obligated or be intimidated or coerced in the course of their duties and credible and strong structures must be in place to support the state entities they are associated with. It is on this basis reasonable and objective minded persons, to include UWP leader Allen Chastanet, are expressing deep concern with the composition of our new Citizenship Investment Programme (CIP) Unit and board.
Mr. Chastanet in particular has highlighted at length the obvious shortcomings and potential for political influence and interference. It cannot be so with such an important, sensitive and security loaded issue as the granting of our sovereign citizenship and right to bear our passport. When a small country like ours has little natural resources, in the face of the global community much of what we will have to cherish and protect is our name and we cannot then allow outsiders if with dubious intentions and means to destroy it.
Worst, if they are facilitated by our own, at different levels, who are given the authority to properly conduct and protect our business and country’s name.
So, again Antigua is in the spotlight these past days with questions being asked about the level of due diligence with its CIP regarding a Chinese woman and her daughter, the lady holding an Antiguan CIP passport. She is now wanted by the authorities in China and the assistance of Interpol was sought in the matter.
Already with similar scandals to include that of the former Nigerian Minister of Petroleum, Dominica’s CIP is yet again featuring with two skiers from Montana, USA . It is alleged that they donated almost $200,000 to Dominica to acquire citizenship so that they could create their own and Dominica’s first Olympic ski team, for which they are the only team members. Their fraudulent scheme involved a reportedly repertoire of fictitious tales of their athletic background which has now been exposed. It is reported that the couple exploited Dominica’s economic citizenship programme.
Whilst St. Lucia’s CIP Unit Chief has been touting the now much abused line that proper due diligence will be applied in our regard and expresses full confidence in her unit’s ability to function properly, does the reality support that? It is all well and good but that line is an obvious echo of what would have previously come out from the authorities in Antigua & Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis and Dominica, all of which have been connected to many questionable CIP dealings with persons of dubious character.
There is no doubt that all of the information emerging surrounding Ambassador Walid Juffali’s status and situation and together with the secret nature of his appointment, justifiably lends to more than just speculation that much is amiss. If that issue is anything to go by then we the citizens have every good reason to be extremely concerned and distrustful of our CIP initiative as is.