THE members of the board of the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) have been named. The board’s constitution was made public via a press release from the Office of the Prime Minister on Tuesday.
The five-member board will be led by Dr. Ernest Hilaire, Saint Lucia’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom. Other members are Dwight Lay (Attorney General’s Chambers), Lucius Lake (Immigration Department, Royal Saint Lucia Police Force (RSLPF), Raquel Willie-Trotman (Attorney-at-Law, private practice) and Deale Lee (Attorney-at-Law, private practice).
The board was appointed by the Cabinet of Ministers pursuant to Section 5 of the Citizenship by Investment Act, No. 14 of 2015. According to the press release, the board has since commenced work to operationalize the Citizenship by Investment Unit as required by the Act and the programme is expected to be launched later this year.
In her Throne Speech in May last year, Governor-General Dame PearletteLouisy indicated that government was mulling the possibility of granting economic citizenship to foreign investors in an effort to attract much-needed capital investment to the island.
In August last year, a seven-member government-appointed task force chaired by former Prime Minister Dr. Vaughan Lewis was given the task of determining whether Saint Lucia should go introduce a citizenship by investment programme.
Last January, the seven-member task force chaired by Dr. Lewis handed in its report stating that it had undertaken “a broad analysis of Saint Lucia’s economic structure, development challenges and current situation, placing the economy in the context of global economic trends and their effects” on CARICOM countries.
The task force studied regional and global trends resulting from the implementation of citizenship by investment programmes across the globe with “substantial attention paid to demonstrating the relevance of this model of economic development specifically to Saint Lucia.”
The task force also recommended the implementation of the Saint Lucia Economic Residence and Citizenship Programme albeit highlighting some stringent criteria that should become necessary should Saint Lucia choose to adopt such a programme. Those criteria included:
•A direct citizenship programme with four investment options: (i) investment in an existing or new business, (ii) investment in real estate, (iii) contribution to a National Development Fund, and (iv) investment in government bonds;
•Establishment of a separate residence programme with the option of eventually leading to citizenship;
•Establishment of a designated Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU) as a statutory body;
•Very transparent approaches in respect of reporting requirements and public information dissemination; and
•Engagement of specialized due diligence and marketing experts.
The five board members were appointed by Cabinet. Further, Clause 5 of the Citizenship by Investment Act spells out the Board’s composition, all of whom would be appointed by either of the following: the Minister responsible for the Citizenship by Investment Programme, the Minister for National Security, the Attorney-General or his/her appointed representative or two attorneys-at-law with at least 10 years standing.
That clause also stipulates that the Board’s members be trained in law, business, finance or international relations, with Cabinet appointing two members of the board to serve as Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson.
Among the functions of the newly-appointed board are the following:
•Coordinating the administration and operation of the Citizenship by Investment Programme in an efficient manner;
•Monitoring the process of an application by an applicant;
•Reviewing reports of the Citizenship by Investment Unit;
•Reviewing reports of the Unit;
•Making recommendations to the Minister on the development of the Citizenship by Investment Programme;
•Establishing and determining the functions or duties of the Unit;
•Issuing guidelines within its jurisdiction under the Citizenship by Investment Act;
•Carrying out such other functions incidental to the proper discharge of the functions under paragraphs (a) through (f).
Saint Kitts and Nevis implemented its Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) in 1984 and has the distinction of having the longest-running established programme in the world. Based on the financial success of Saint Kitts and Nevis’ programme, Saint Lucia hopes to reap rewards by having its own.
Since announcing its plans to consider adopting a Citizenship by Investment Programme, the Saint Lucia government has received mixed reactions from the citizenry. On one hand, some people feel that the programme stands to reap many economic rewards. Others, though, believe that the island’s patrimony is at stake.
In May last year, Chief Executive Officer of Invest Saint Lucia (formerly National Development Corporation), McHale Andrew, told reporters that government expected to bring in an estimated US$200 million in new investment to Saint Lucia via foreign direct investment (FDI). By December last year, Andrew said the island had already attracted US$120 million of its projected target, eclipsing the annual average of US$113 million made in the preceding years.