The Prime Minister of St. Lucia, Allen Chastanet, announced late October that the government had plans to reform their Citizenship by Investment Program (CIP). The message was relayed publicly by Chastanet on News Maker Live whichaired on DBS Television. In January of this year, St. Lucia became the fifth Caribbean nation to introduce CIP.
Chastanet said that the government was hopeful to relaunch CIP by November (this month), however, no news of any restructuring has been announced to date. Under St. Lucia’s current Citizenship by Investment Program, there are different investment options available to qualifying candidates who wish to acquire full citizenship of this Caribbean island. One option is the donation of US$200,000 to the National Economic Fund. As donated funds are non-refundable, a more popular option is investing in a government-approved real estate project with a minimum amount of US$300,000. The investor may resell this investment at a profit after the initial five-year holding period. One of the program’s future real estate options that was announced earlier this year is a 700-acre luxury resort with estimated project costs at US$2.6 billion.
Many Caribbean countries have turned to investment immigration to help boost their debt-stricken economies. Chastanet is reviewing and studying the available investment options by these other nations across the Caribbean. He has noted that Dominica has become the dominant leader in selling citizenship, with 3,000 of its 71,000 citizens being citizens by investment. In an attempt to catch up to Dominica, Saint Kitts and Nevis is speeding up their CIP application processing time.
Dominica’s Citizenship by Investment Program is the cheapest in the world, with an investment option as low as US$100,000 to obtain citizenship. St. Lucia’s cheapest option, in comparison, is twice as much as Dominica’s. During the government restructuring of the program, however, St. Lucia’s investment amounts are likely to change.
Other Caribbean islands are offering more competitive programs than St. Lucia, admitted Chastanet. While looking at other available options is important, he explained that in the end, potential investors are looking first and foremost at the benefits offered by that country’s passport. Foreign national investors benefit by the freedom to travel without visas to many more countries than their current passport allows. They are also given a place to safeguard their wealth from heavy taxes.
Chastanet said, “My government’s case, is that CIP should be revenue to go directly to the state, in terms of creating investment, reducing debt or helping to pay for social programmes.” The problem with the current program is that it is not convincingly achieving those goals.
The world is waiting for Chastanet to announce the restructured Citizenship by Investment Program. Will the new and improved CIP stand up to its competition?
For more information on Saint Lucia’s current Citizenship by Investment Program, please click here.
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