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SLP Flays CIP Changes

OPPOSITION Leader, Phillip J. Pierre

Gov’t Turning Programme Into Cash Cow–Pierre.

CITING the ‘desecration’ of the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) by government, the leader of the opposition St Lucia Labour Party (SLP), Philip Pierre, has accused the Allen Chastanet administration of attempting to turn the measure into a ‘cash cow’.

Image of Opposition Leader, Phillip J. Pierre
Opposition Leader, Phillip J. Pierre

Addressing a news conference Thursday, Pierre stated the announcement that the United Workers Party (UWP) Administration has changed the regulations effective January 1, has effectively damaged the reputation and image of the CIP.

“The intention of the UWP government is to turn the CIP into a cash cow with little regard for the consequences to St Lucia or the programme,” Pierre declared.

He asserted that the unrealistic election promises must now be funded by whatever means necessary.

According to the changes announced by Government, the qualifying contribution for an applicant for St. Lucia citizenship is now US$100,000 or half what it was when the programme was announced at the beginning of last year.

For an applicant with spouse the qualifying amount is now also been reduced to US$165,000 from the original US$235,000 while an applicant with spouse and two dependents its US$190,000 down from US$ 250,000 .

Chastanet issued the amendment on the December 12 under what is called a negative resolution, meaning that the amended regulation has not yet been discussed in parliament.

He said these were among the changes made to the regulations in order to make the St Lucia programme more attractive to interested persons.

However Pierre made it clear that his party is opposed to the changes being made and will seek a debate in the Parliament of St Lucia to ensure that the changes and their possible consequences are fully explained to the people of Saint Lucia.

“We will also at that time make a definitive statement on the future of the CIP in an SLP administration,” Pierre stated.

He recalled that on assumption of office in 2011, the SLP administration was aware that the UWP Government was in discussion with a foreign owned agency on the introduction of a citizenship by investment programme in St Lucia.

Pierre said despite the severe economic situation, the SLP administration did not think the CIP was a priority at the time.

He observed that four years later, the SLP, after intensive debate, dialogue and consultation, introduced a CIP as a means of increasing investment.

“We spent many months studying the industry, noting the challenges, evaluating the potential and consulting various concerned parties,” the SLP leader noted.

He recalled that a Task Force headed by Professor Vaughan Lewis and comprising a wide section of the social and economic sectors including the then opposition UWP was set up to discuss the introduction of a CIP programme in Saint Lucia.

Pierre told the news conference that the report of the task force was widely circulated to the public on the instructions of the cabinet of ministers.

He explained that there were some notable concerns raised by the public.

Pierre outlined those as including concerns that any CIP in St Lucia must limit the number of persons becoming citizens, ensure that only reputable and high worth individuals are granted Saint Lucian citizenship, have a robust due diligence framework to ensure unworthy persons do not become citizens and ensure transparency and accountability.

He recalled that the parliament later approved the legislation establishing the CIP with every member expressing support for the programme, including the then Leader of the Opposition, Doctor Gale Rigobert.

He said on the matter of establishing the CIP, the SLP was very clear on its objectives.

The opposition leader said they included that the measure would be a tool aimed primarily at attracting foreign direct investment in high end hotel and real estate products and employment generating business enterprises

Pierre declared that accountability and transparency were not options.

He also said annual reports would have had to be submitted to Parliament, indicating the individuals who were granted Saint Lucian citizenship, how much income was collected and how that revenue was utilized.

The SLP leader observed that his party did not see St Lucia as being offered as the cheapest option and required that the the due diligence process be very robust.

He said the CIP was not seen as a measure to merely sell passports.

Pierre disclosed that the intention was to offer Saint Lucia as an option for selected high worth individuals with a propensity to invest.

“Therefore we limited the number of applications to 500 annually and required a minimum net worth of three million US dollars,” he said.

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