THE St. Lucia Labour Party’s (SLP) call on Prime Minister Allen Chastanet to stop politicizing the Citizenship by Investment Unit has been dismissed by the latter’s Senior Communications Officer, Nicole Mc Donald.
The SLP on Thursday said it was surprised by the Unit’s issuance of a statement in response to one it made last week critical to last January’s changes to the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) by the government.
The statement issued by the Unit on Tuesday simply highlighted three conditions under which citizenship can be revoked from someone who gained nationality through the CIP.
The Unit’s statement was prompted by one released by the SLP last week in which the party stated it would review every citizenship granted under the ruling United Workers Party government, in lieu of recent actions taken by Leonne Theodore–John, Speaker of the House of Assembly, to remove a Motion on the Order Paper of last week Tuesday’s House sitting the very same morning the Motion was down to be debated.
According to the SLP, since its statement of last week was critical of the changes made to the CIP by the Prime Minister, the expectation was that the government or the Office of the Prime Minister would have been the one to respond to its statement and not the Unit in charge of the CIP.
The party then called on the Prime Minister to stop politicizing the Unit and avoid using the Unit’s staff to pursue his political objectives.
“The SLP believes that the CIP Unit must remain professional and objective and political operatives must not be seen to be directing or interfering in its decisions,” noted the SLP in a press release Thursday.
The party further called on the staff of the CIP Unit and other government agencies involved in issuing citizenships and passports to be vigilant and ensure that the correct procedures are followed and that they do not give in to threats from political operatives.
However, Mc Donald pointed to the SLP as interfering with the CIP Unit by making statements about the programme that worry potential investors to the country and causing the Unit to take positions like the one it did last Tuesday when it released the statement underscoring conditions under which decisions made by the CIP can be revoked.
“It is the responsibility of the CIP Office to answer matters that directly affect the CIP. Obviously, the SLP attempts to hurt the CIP in some way and that has an impact on the CIP Office, which is why I assume they (the CIP Unit) had to issue such a release,” Mc Donald told The VOICE.
Mc Donald said the CIP went further to issue a memo to all marketing agents, authorizing agents and promoters of the CIP in direct response to last week’s press release on the CIP by the SLP. That press release, she said, caused some concerns in the market.
“We have to understand that when we issue something at the local level, such things have far- reaching consequences as a result of the Internet,” Mc Donald said.
“If the CIP Office is getting requests from agents and promoters to clarify the situation, it is best for the CIP, which the SLP put in place, to answer and not the Office of the Prime Minister,” Mc Donald said, noting she had no idea why the SLP was asking why the CIP was the one responding to its statement.
“If you are doing something to contradict or undermine the work of the staff of the CIP, then what do you expect the staff to do?” Mc Donald questioned.
Efforts to get the CIP Unit’s take on the matter failed due to its Chief Executive Officer, Cindy Emmanuel-McLean, being out of office. She is expected in office next Tuesday.