CASTRIES, St.Lucia, Thursday April 3, 2014, CMC – In an effort to boost its investment portfolio, the Government is giving consideration to the introduction of economic citizenship .
The idea was recently mooted by political leader of the opposition United Workers Party (UWP) – Allen Chastanet who said that the initiative could attract “the brightest and wealthiest people” to a country for the purpose of investment, while at the same time highlighting the need for safeguards.
Describing the current economic climate as “severe, debilitating and oppressive “ Prime Minister Kenny Anthony, who is preparing to present the 2014/15 national budget said St Lucia may well have to look at initiatives that it once “frowned upon”.
“This is a difficult environment perhaps calling for different responses,” he said.
“I think we cannot close our eyes because it’s an option we may have to consider and in so doing we may have to look at the experiences of other countries,” Anthony told reporters.
The Prime Minister said St Lucia country has “huge problems on our hands”, stating that what was rejected previously will now have to be re-examined. But at the same time Anthony made it clear that St Lucia’s honour and integrity are vital and must not be compromised.
He also pointed out that in considering economic citizenship, issues of demographics have to be determined.
“We are small societies and cannot create enclaves in our midst to cause social imbalance and conflict,” Anthony said.
He cited the example of St Kitts, with a “small population “ of 45,000.
“My understanding is that there may be anywhere from 3000 to 5000 passports that have been issued there, so think for a moment about the demographic imbalance that can create.”
Anthony said some Caribbean countries are granting economic citizenship to persons out of Asia, but once that happens those persons are ending up in St Lucia and establishing themselves on the island.
“The question therefore is to what extent should we consider identical rights to those individuals that are conferred on citizens of other Eastern Caribbean countries.”
He said those were the types of issues that have to be considered and assessed very carefully in dealing with the issue of economic citizenship.
Nevertheless the St Lucia leader said his government could not “throw all ideas out the window”.
Other countries in the region, including Dominica, St.Kitts Nevis and Antigua Barbuda have launched their citizenship by investment programmes, which grants citizenship of a country to individuals who invest money to a country’s development. Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)