Perhaps the most contentious and important topic discussed during last week’s IMI Connect in Malta was the unauthorized discounting of Caribbean CBI real estate. Bayat Group’s Sam Bayat, Colin Bishop of Reef View Enterprises, and Heather Bain of ATB Global Mobility led the discussion and quickly opened the floor up to input from the audience.
The topic generated intense debate and saw contributions from a wide range of audience members, including local CBI agents, developers, and international promoters.
While none indicated private sector practitioners or clients were altogether blameless in creating a state of affairs in which Caribbean CBI real estate continues to sell at amounts below official prices, the consensus among practitioners was that, ultimately, as long as government units look the other way and impose no real consequences, the problem will persist. Many agents indicated they did not personally wish to sell real estate at discounts, the market conditions brought about by a lack of government enforcement of the rule left them little choice but to engage in the same practices or lose clients to competitors.
Speaking to IMI on camera following the closed-door discussion, Bayat succinctly summarized the IMI community’s view on discounting:
“Discounting is going to continue as long as the governments don’t put their foot down because they’re the ones controlling the whole process.”
Bayat called for more industry-wide coordination to prevent improper conduct and to impose a code of conduct, possibly through the Investment Migration Council.
“During the panel, we reached the conclusion that the initiative should be taken by the governments to have better control, and the practitioner community should also get involved. Can we really blame the applicants? Maybe yes, maybe no.”
He also indicated he saw the recent US-led Caribbean coordination around the “6 CBI Principles” as a positive step.
“The fact that there was a joint meeting between the Caribbean heads of program and prime ministers and the US, was excellent. They came up with some suggestions. For example, the interview idea was quite interesting and I think it has become accepted by [the Americans] now and maybe they’ll put some pressure on the European side to also accept these programs.”