Under the Citizenship by Investment Programme there are four options open to applicants for Saint Lucian citizenship: investment/ donation into the National Economic Fund, Real Estate Projects, Enterprise Projects, or the purchase of government bonds. The CIP website says that when an application for citizenship by means of an investment in the Saint Lucia National Economic Fund is approved, the minimum investment is US$100,000, if applying alone. If applying with a spouse, or with a spouse and up to two qualifying dependents, the cost rises to US$165,000 and US$190,000 respectively. Thereafter, for US$25,000 per person, additional qualifying dependents can be added to an application.
Once the cabinet of ministers approves a real estate project, an applicant can choose to invest in it. The two categories of Approved Real Estate projects are: high-end branded hotels and resorts, and high-end boutique properties. The minimum investment is US$300,000. Enterprise projects are also considered by the cabinet for approval, and can fall into seven categories: specialty restaurants; cruise ports and marinas; agro-processing plants; pharmaceutical products; ports, bridges, roads and highways; research institutions and facilities, and offshore universities. A minimum investment of US$3,500,000 is required for a sole applicant. For more than one applicant the minimum investment is US$6,000,000.
The last investment option is the purchase of non-interest bearing government bonds. The bonds are to be registered, and remain in the name of the applicant for a five-year holding period from the issue date. A minimum investment of US$500,000 is required if applying alone. Applying with a spouse, or with a spouse and up to two qualifying dependents costs US$535,000, and US$550,000 respectively. Additional qualifying dependents can be added for US$25,000 per person.
Based on CIP annual reports for the financial years 2016-17 and 2017-18, 205 applications for citizenship have been granted. During 2016-17, seventeen applications were granted, twelve through investment into the fund, and the remainder through the purchase of government bonds. In 2017-18, the investment option for all 188 approved applications was to the fund.
“I don’t think it’s a matter of concern,” said the CIP’s CEO Nestor Alfred, “because you can develop the programme and generate significant revenue by the donation mode. However, you’d appreciate that the programme is very price sensitive. You’d also recongise that the donation contribution amount is not as significant as compared to the other routes for the grant of citizenship.”
Mr. Alfred says he believes this route is more popular not only because it’s the cheapest, but also because individuals like the notion of their investment going into a national economic fund, which goes towards assisting in the country’s development. On the other hand, said Alfred, “if any country is to make a success of this programme, the entry for the grant of citizenship cannot be simply by donations. I have no grave concern that where we are concerned the main route is via donation. However, I believe we have to explore the other routes as a means of creating a more attractive programme.”
The CEO singled out the real estate option in St. Kitts, where there have been reports of extensive fraud. He says there are a number of approved projects but “we have not gone the route of offering them to investors simply because we’ve taken the position that everything must be in order before such a product is made available”. He revealed that in recent days a real estate project was approved for the south of the island and that from all indications it should start this year. Alfred says that for a jurisdiction which has just come on the market, Saint Lucia’s CIP programme is holding its own “but there’s always room for improvement”.