The new man at the helm of the Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU), Nestor Alfred, has said that that he is aware of the questions surrounding the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP).
“It is true that there are a lot of questions and a lot of discussion taking place surrounding the CIP and I am fully aware of those,” Alfred told reporters.
But he said:” Maybe it is because of the issue that maybe we are not speaking enough and informing the general public essentially in regard to what this means for Saint Lucia primarily.”
Alfred, who officially took up his new appointment on Tuesday, expressed the view that a lot of issues surrounding the CIP may be related to persons not ‘fully’ understanding the programme itself and what it can contribute to Saint Lucia and its development.
“I can fully understand people’s level of hesitation and concern when they think of the programme – that the programme is essentially simply one of selling passports and our sovereignty,” he explained.
However Alfred noted that every single jurisdiction needs to decide on what will drive its economic growth and create employment for its people.
He asserted that for Saint Lucia, the CIP is just one avenue to generate that economic growth and employment.
“To do this essentially, we are mandated to review investors – their applications that come before us, and make a decision as to whether this person should be granted a citizenship. So we grant the citizenship and the immigration department issues the passport,” Nestor Alfred explained.
He expressed the view that very importantly, it must be understood by all what the initiative means for Saint Lucia.
“It is maybe one of the more important avenues at this time where we can look towards growing our economy and creating the jobs that we require,” Alfred observed.
He admitted that Saint Lucia’s CIP is one of the lowest priced.
However the CIU official declared that it is a product that is being offered internationally.
“When you offer a product you most be cognizant of the market – what the market wants, what the market is saying and you also must think of how you can be competitive in the market,” he explained.
The new CIU boss added that after much thought, the policy makers decided that based on what the market was requesting and in view of being competitive, they would adopt the existing pricing for granting citizenship.
Alfred pointed out that Saint Lucia entered the CIP arena very late.
“Perhaps the last in the OECS,” he declared.