Saint Lucian Prime Minister Allen Chastanet indicates his Vincentian counterpart – PM Gonsalves, who today stands for re-election in Saint Vincent & the Grenadines – could still come around to accept the value of a citizenship by investment program, a possibility Gonsalves has repeatedly dismissed in recent years.
“Prime Minister Gonsalves has been very consistent, even at our meetings, and he’s certainly not in any way said he’s going to stop other countries from getting involved in CIPs, but he certainly has not gone in that direction,” PM Chastanet said during a press briefing. “But, again, I think that Saint Lucia, for many years, also was in the same position that he [Gonsalves] but started to realize that this was an opportunity for major capital investment.”
Chastanet cited major infrastructural, hospitality, and social housing developments in Dominica and Saint Kitts as examples of the value a CIP can bring to Caribbean states.
“I don’t know whether PM Gonsalves will ever change his mind,” continued Chastanet. “That’s certainly his own prerogative. But I know that, by being a member of the OECS, that there are certain rights and privileges that a person becoming a citizen of Saint Lucia or a person becoming a citizen of Dominica is entitled to. So, we’ve had several investors who had gotten citizenship in Dominica who came and opened up a business in Saint Lucia, and we had to treat them as a local investor.”
Emphasizing that such schemes were not a new idea from the Caribbean, Chastanet pointed out that investment migration programs also exist in places like the US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Malta, and Cyprus. The positive contributions of CIPs, he intimated, should not be discounted.
“I think that it’s unfortunate where anybody tries to marginalize the impact of the CIP and doesn’t accept the fact that, within the OECS, there’s more than one country who was involved and, by the Basseterre Treaty, we are required to recognize those citizens and to give them certain privileges in each others’ countries. I think, for the most part, CIPs have been incredibly successful for the region. The World Bank and the IMF have indicated support for the programs.”
“There are a lot of naysayers”
The PM also spoke of some of the common scare stories used to dissuade Caribbean populations from adopting such programs, pointing out that they have not come to fruition.
“What I would like to say to anybody who’s contemplating getting into a CIP, because there are a lot of naysayers, is that we have almost 30 years of experience in this region and some of the things that are attributed to the CIP just have not been true. So, this idea that there would be an invasion of people coming into our countries, buying up land and causing inflation to take place, and replacing our own nationals has not happened. There’s not one example in any of the OECS countries where that has taken place.”
Chastanet also highlighted how a CIP has the potential to transform a country’s economy.
“Take Dominica. Dominica was not a major tourism player but, all of a sudden, they have now seven or eight major hotels going up or that have already been constructed in Dominica. Particularly now, with the pandemic, and what’s taking place with climate change, that any country in the OECS, or a small island developing state [SIDS] can survive on the monies that are available through the development agencies. And the CIP certainly has created an opportunity for us to generate free capital, in some cases for the developers, and free capital in the cases for the state. And it’s how you manage that, but that is a domestic issue and every government would have a responsibility to do it in a proper way.”
Christian Henrik Nesheim is the founder and editor of Investment Migration Insider, the #1 magazine – online or offline – for residency and citizenship by investment. He is an internationally recognized expert, speaker, documentary producer, and writer on the subject of investment migration, whose work is cited in the Economist, Bloomberg, Fortune, Forbes, Newsweek, and Business Insider. Norwegian by birth, Christian has spent the last 14 years in the United States, China, and Spain.