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SLP Debunks Claims About CIP

Hilaire Contends: “No other island has a more robust, due diligence process than Saint Lucia.”

By Reginald Andrew
Tourism Minister Dr. Ernest Hilaire
Tourism Minister Dr. Ernest Hilaire

Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Ernest Hilaire has debunked claims made by former United Workers Party (UWP) parliamentarian Dominic Fedee concerning the validity and sustainability of Saint Lucia’s Citizen by Investment Program (CIP).

In a press release, last week, the UWP senator argued that Saint Lucians stood the risk of losing visa-free access to European Union countries and the United Kingdom (UK), due to “the scandalous decision by the SLP-led administration not to sign an agreement with other jurisdictions that offer Caribbean Citizenship by Investment.”

Fedee said that other islands like Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts Nevis, Dominica and Grenada had all signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) which required them to establish a minimum rate of USD200, 000 for the donation component of respective CBI programs.

He added that the EU and other traditional allies had set out guidelines to monitor improving security and other concerns of the CBI programs in the Caribbean.

“Last year, after the announcement was made that Dominica had lost its visa free (access) to the UK, they said Saint Lucia was losing it…but that did not happen,” Hilaire told reporters at a weekly media briefing on Monday.

The deputy prime minister stated that Fedee’s remarks sparked off some unsubstantiated claims: “One of which is the reduction of the price from $100, 000 to $200,000. But that was done by his government,” he said.

“We are not responsible for this,” declared Hilaire. “When we passed legislation in 2015 for the CIP, we had $200,000 (and) we had an annual limit of 500 (applicants).”

The minister with responsibility for Economic Development and the CIP asserted that under the then St Lucia Labour Party (SLP) administration, the CIP operations had yielded “a net worth of $3million…we had those in place, they removed it.”

He said the former administration reduced the price “to bring it in line with the other islands,” and therefore, it was absurd to state that it was the SLP administration who effected this reduction in the CIP price.

On Fedee’s statement, insinuating that Saint Lucia was the last country to ban Russian citizens participation in the island’s CIP, Hilaire noted, “We were the first to do so, but we said when we were doing it we had people who had applied in the system …and we cannot just throw them out.

“We are likely to be sued… (since) those people have legal rights.”

He said, if Russian immigrants were granted US citizenship and cleared of any misgivings, the government decided to review the issue.

“And that’s how responsible governments act,” he stressed.

Commenting on the country’s position on the MOA, Hilaire said Saint Lucia supports all the clauses, except one.

He explained that the government has already implemented the provisions of the MOA, and “some of them are in our legislation, they are not a non-binding agreement.”

Hilaire asserted: “No other island has a more robust, due diligence process than Saint Lucia, none. The one position we had a challenge with is the increase of the price from $100, 000 to $200,000.”

The minister said since government has negotiated financing projects in housing, and infrastructure, the CIP officials requested the international authorities to grant the country a sort of “grandfather clause” to allow the current contract to run out, “and then we are prepared to increase.”

He added, “We have to protect the interest of Saint Lucia, we have to protect the interest of our people.”

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