Chastanet Warns Of Possible Visa-Free Fallout Over CIP – St. Lucia Times

The content originally appeared on: St. Lucia Times News

Opposition leader Allen Chastanet, citing security and transparency concerns regarding Saint Lucia’s Citizenship By Investment Programme (CIP), has declared that they could impact this country’s visa-free access to the United Kingdom and Europe.

The United Workers Party (UWP) leader’s remarks came in a press release  from his office which appears below:

The Prime Minister’s Office yesterday issued a press release that the Prime Minister has gone to Brussels to meet with the European Union to discuss the Citizenship By Investment Programme.

The Opposition has been reliably informed that in fact Mr. Pierre was summoned due to serious concerns about the operation of this Programme.

We, as a party have been sounding the alarm for almost two years since Government and the Prime Minister in particular, changed the rules governing the Economic Fund to allow Cabinet to use the CIP monies freely and due to their damning decision to continue accepting Russian and Iranian applications at the commencement of the Ukraine war in spite of international concerns.

In addition, the Government’s refusal to commit to the OECS joint protocols and the recent addition of an infrastructural option have collectively undermined confidence in our program.

This raises serious security and transparency concerns and threatens to impact our current visa-free access to the United Kingdom and Europe which will necessarily include Martinique and Guadeloupe.

There is also a very real risk that the US and Canada could reverse their recently granted concessions to allow us to apply and renew our visas online.

The Government recently announced during the Budget Estimates that the Donation Option within the CIP Programme only achieved 50% of its projected revenue as it was negatively affected by the Real Estate option.

Whilst no further explanation was offered, it has been reported that the Real Estate option is being sold unlawfully at a discounted price which the Government has to date not denied or confirmed.

The Government has also launched a new option which will allow certain approved developers to undertake infrastructure projects for the Government and to reimburse themselves by selling our citizenships for US$100,000 and receiving the funds directly.

The Government has to date, not informed the people of St. Lucia about this new option, but there is already evidence that a particular developer has begun selling this option and, even more concerning, is the sub-par selling price of US$80,000.

The OECS Countries with CIP programs have recently agreed to a common standard as recommended by the European Union, including a minimum price of US$200,000.

St Lucia, under my administration spearheaded this joint approach which was critical for regional security and to avoid each island undermining the others.

It is not only disappointing but extremely alarming that the Government seems incapable of understanding the far-reaching implications of its refusal to join this initiative using a pathetic excuse of a conflict with existing contractual commitments.

The recommended and traditional practice that CIP applications are forwarded to the Regional Security institutions for independent vetting is now being disregarded.

The consequent risks to the reputation of our Programme and to local and regional security are obvious to everyone but the Prime Minister and his Cabinet.

The United Workers Party is warning this Government to stop their mismanagement and corrupt actions of the CIP program because the risks to our security and reputation are serious.

Many St. Lucians have to struggle to get visas to travel for health, education, shopping and visiting friends and family. The online process for the US and Canada has made things much easier but this could now be at risk as well as the visa-free access to other countries that we currently enjoy.

The fallout will likely result in further hardship to St Lucians by increasing the burden and cost of visa applications. It is time that the Government stops the reckless decision-making by irresponsible people seemingly incapable of understanding or indifferent to the devastating consequences we as a people will face.