Opposition Pledges to Review Every Citizenship Granted by Current Government
Following a walk out on Tuesday by all opposition parliamentarians after a motion to reverse changes to the citizenship by investment programme (CIP) was removed from the order paper, the opposition St Lucia Labour Party (SLP) has pledged to review every citizenship granted by the current government under the CIP.
The SLP strongly condemned the action of the speaker of the House of Assembly in removing the motion from the order paper of Tuesday’s sitting of the House to debate changes made by Prime Minister Allen Chastanet to the CIP regulations.
The SLP contends that the action of the speaker, which she said was at the request of the prime minister, was illegal and an abuse of power.
The removal of the motion for debate was followed by the prime minister presenting a minister’s statement on the CIP.
“This statement is not what is required by the CIP Act which clearly states what information must be presented to the Parliament and people of Saint Lucia accompanied by an auditor’s report of the finances earned by the programme,” the SLP said in a statement.
“This course of action surely raises a question as to what does the prime minister seek to hide in the operations of the CIP. There must be something wrong about why the prime minister would not want a debate nor submit a formal report – required by law – to the Parliament,” the SLP continued.
According to the SLP, the actions of the current United Workers Party (UWP) administration serve to weaken the reputation of the CIP which, it said, was introduced under the previous SLP government in order to create a well-regarded, well-regulated programme that respects the values of the Saint Lucian people and their citizenship rights.
“Sadly, this vision has been compromised by the actions of the current administration,” the SLP said.
Specific safety mechanisms, including the annual cap of 500 applicants and the requirement to show proof of minimum $3 million net worth, which were specifically created to protect the programme, have been removed.
The SLP said it believes that these changes, along with the cheapening of the level of donation as a qualifying investment and the guarantee of processing all Desert Star Holdings (DSH) applicants within 35 days, should all be reconsidered for the sake of the reputation of Saint Lucia.
These changes, the SLP said, will undoubtedly undermine the national security safeguards that were embedded in the setting up of the CIP. The SLP said it believes that the CIP should be presented as a premium, selective and highly valued option and not sold as the lowest option available to any and everybody.
“The refusal of the prime minister and the speaker to allow a debate or to present a report as required by law to Parliament forces the St Lucia Labour Party to take a strong stand against the present management of the Saint Lucia CIP,” the SLP said.
“Without any hesitation, when the Labour Party resumes office, we will reinstate the net worth requirement and will undertake another due diligence assessment on each and every application granted under the UWP, with our promise to revoke any passports of applicants, who do not meet the $3 million net worth requirement or do not meet the strict due diligence requirements which Saint Lucians expect. Applicants applying for citizenship in St Lucia should be warned that when the SLP is returned to office, we will also demand that all citizens who did not donate the full contribution amount of US$200,000, will be compelled to top up the contribution that they made at the time of becoming citizens.
“For the sanctity of our citizenship, we do not tolerate any applicants who do not meet the first-class standard that we expect from individuals seeking citizenship in Saint Lucia,” the SLP continued.