Renown as a luscious tropical travel destination, Saint Lucia has also taken on the role as an attractive hub for investors looking to take part of the country’s respected Citizenship by Investment programme.
Saint Lucia has the newest and possibly one of the best-positioned Citizenship by Investment programmes (CIPs) in the Caribbean. Vibrant, discerning and alluring, Saint Lucia offers all the tropical benefits of the region while remaining exclusive, authentic and engaging.
One of the vital players in the success of the CIP enterprise, is Mr. Nestor Alfred; an exceptional man doing extraordinary things.
Alfred is the CEO of the Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU) of Saint Lucia and has made it his career’s mission to project and promote this wonderful paradise. A consummate professional; he is widely recognized and acknowledged as the standing authority in sifting the good from the dubious. With a formidable fount of information and knowhow, Alfred directly deals with international investment, anti-money-laundering and anti-terror financing activities.
The Saint Lucia Citizenship by Investment Programme was established in 2015 under the regulations of the Citizenship by Investment Bill in 2015, making it the most recent addition to the CIP programmes in the Caribbean region.
Since August 2017, the CEO of the Citizenship by Investment Unit has launched major initiatives to give the programme the strongest fiat in the world and make it above reproach- a responsibility he takes very seriously.
He is also Commissioner to the CARICOM Competition Commission and wears his multiple hats with grace and dignity as he proceeds to attract “reputable” clientele from around the world. He firmly assures, that the sifting of applications will ensure that unwelcomed elements remain unwelcomed; opening its arms only to those who will contribute to the common wealth of the nation, without polluting it.
“Our prime concern is security considerations as we evaluate credentials of applicants for citizenship. We have to make sure that wrong people do not end up carrying our passport. In this regard, we have a fool-proof mechanism to vet an applicant’s background and the veracity of their finances, so they are not tainted,” he states most unequivocally, disenchanting anyone who might see it as an escape route from the arm of the law. He said this is why the government runs Saint Lucia’s CBI Unit and “it has not been outsourced.”
Alfred, who heads the five-member Board of Directors, says, “We have studied our strengths and pitfalls, and we have proper legislation in this regard. A mechanism of effective monitoring, scrutiny and intelligence sharing with respective states, makes it a competitive programme and brings in due credibility for international citizens who go on to invest their money and trust in Saint Lucia. It is one of the Caribbean’s newest economic citizenship options and has won laurels for its integrity and utility.”
While the clearance by due diligence providers is mandated, there is another proviso. Those who have been denied a visa from any country with which Saint Lucia has a visa-free travel protocol are ineligible to apply.
The diligence committee is given the unlimited authority to look into the murky areas of money-laundering, terror financing, tax evasion and concealment of truth issues before making a final decision on eligibility. Criminal activity of every sort makes the individual a nonstarter.
To be fair Saint Lucia does allow the right to appeal against denial of security clearance with the diligence committee responding to the points raised by the applicant in order to clarify its reservations. As concrete evidence of its intent and the stringency of its weeding out process, a mere 78 out of 279 applicants were awarded citizenship.
Currently on the anvil is a government-sponsored study on diversifying the portfolio for citizenship. “Attracting foreign direct investments is our goal. We hereby plan to target the tourism industry, which is the biggest revenue earner for Saint Lucia.”
Alfred also mentioned, that the issue of granting citizenship does not rest directly within the government, but with the CIP Board of Directors under his purview. The main reason is to remove any possibility of graft, bribery, nepotism or collusion, hence the independent body.
Under this initiative, the nation is able to sustainably attract foreign direct investment, benefiting its people and granting them a better standard of living, while allowing the government to spark new projects and provide its citizens with more opportunities. In return, it offers the benefit of innumerable options available in the fields of trade, tourism, real estate and fixed investment. Additionally, freedom of movement also gives the new citizen impetus to improve his original enterprise and make it that much more profitable.
In a bid to make it more eclectic and open to with a starting investment of US$ 100,000, the authorities are pleased to allow anyone to make a bid regardless of educational qualifications, nationality, ethnic persuasion or religious belief.
The Saint Lucia National Economic Fund was established under Section 33 of the Citizenship by Investment Act No. 14 of 2015. This sets up the National Economic Fund for the sole purpose of receiving qualifying investments of donations under the programme.
These earmarked funds collected via the National Economic Fund are then used for the national development agenda as approved by the Cabinet. Those who hesitate after weighing this option from other sources, do so because of the lack of sufficient signposting. With Saint Lucia, each stage of the investment is explained in detail.
One aspect that adds additional zest to the Saint Lucia CIP, is the safety and comfort zone for the family living on the island. The Caribbean has produced some of the best doctors, engineers and educationists. The educational system in that part of the world, inherited from Britain, is competitive and second to none in meritocracy. Health services are excellent, and the amenities and social facilities abound.
Currently there are four kinds of investment programmes at work:
– The National Economic Fund grants citizenship with a donation of US$ 100,000.
– Real Estate: Saint Lucia plans to tap investors for its five-star hotels and high-end restaurants.
– Approved Enterprise Programme with a minimum investment of US$ 300,000, in the fields of infrastructure, medical universities, etc.
– Government Bonds: US$ 500,000-plus fixed investment in five-year bonds.
The focus of CIPs, Alfred stated, is to generate investment, promote economic development and encourage people of repute worldwide to make Saint Lucia their second home. He concludes by stating that he understands, with acute clarity, that the job he is doing, and the contribution his committee is making, is ultimately for the greater good of their home: Saint Lucia. With a continued effort to strengthen and improve their program, he assures that this is not the end of Saint Lucia’s success story, it is just the beginning.