PRIME Minister Allen Chastanet has described as “outlandish” and “baseless” comments made by the opposition St. Lucia Labour Party (SLP) to revisit the changes to the Citizen Investment Programme (CIP) that were made last January.
The SLP made the comments last week soon after staging a walkout of Parliament last Tuesday following a decision by the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Leonne Theodore John, based on a request from the Prime Minister, not to allow a Motion presented by the Opposition to be debated.
The Motion was removed from the Order Paper the morning of the debate, prompting the walkout. The SLP shortly after said that whenever it resumes office, it would, without any hesitation, reinstate the net worth requirement of the CIP and will undertake another due diligence assessment on each and every application granted under the present administration.
The SLP also promised to revoke passports of applicants who do not meet the $3 million net worth requirement or does not meet the strict due diligence requirements which St. Lucians expect.
Further, the SLP said it would demand that all citizens who did not donate the full contribution amount of US$200,000 will be compelled to top up the contribution that they made at the time of becoming citizens.
The SLP claimed that the strong stand taken against the CIP management was as a result of the refusal of the Prime Minister and the Speaker not to allow the debate on the Motion or to present a report on the CIP as required by law to Parliament.
Chastanet said that what the SLP threatened to do when in power cannot be implemented as it would be difficult to make the things the SLP say retroactive.
“It is an outlandish and baseless threat. That’s what it is,” Chastanet said.
“I do not understand the argument they are making,” Chastanet said. “The Labour Party is the one who started the Citizenship by Investment Programme. The Labour Party is attempting to suggest that because we lowered the price that, somehow, this is going to make the country less secured. None of the regulations as it pertains to background checks have been changed. In fact, if anything, they would be strengthened by new relationships that we have gain through the regional security forces,” Chastanet said.
Chastanet said the wording of the Motion by the SLP was, to his mind, “uncomfortable”. He said he did not feel comfortable debating it, and that the words used in the Motion cannot be contained in a Motion.
According to him, lowering the passport price of the CIP does not mean the programme undermines the country’s security or jeopardize its reputation.
“This is scare tactics, sour grapes by an opposition party that fails to realize every day that they are in opposition,” Chastanet said, adding he did not understand how the Opposition could debate a Motion on something that is not factual.
The motion reads as follows: “Be it resolved the Parliament by Negative Resolution approve that Regulation 7 (3) (a) and Regulation 7 (9) and Schedule 2 (1) Qualifying Investments as provided by Statutory Instrument No. 89 of 2015 be reinstated”.