CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Friday August 7, 2015 – St. Lucia is set to become the fifth Eastern Caribbean nation to introduce a Citizenship by Investment programme, and the country’s Attorney General has suggested a regional body be established to constantly examine these types of initiatives.

The Senate passed the Citizenship by Investment Bill this week, paving the way for St. Lucia to join Grenada, Dominica St. Kitts and Nevis and Antigua and Barbuda in offering citizenship to the wealthy in return for substantial investment.

“We cannot sit back as other countries participate in this process,” Minister for Legal Affairs, Home Affairs and National Security, Senator Victor Phillip La Corbiniere told the Senate on Tuesday.

“We must be at the forefront of it, both locally and at the international level. I would suggest perhaps that down the line, it may well be that countries in the Caribbean that have Citizenship by Investment programmes may want to look at coming together in some kind of standing committee – perhaps a standing committee of CARICOM to keep this matter under constant examination and to be able to keep the government properly advised on developments taking place in this area, and how we need to be proactive in addressing some of these issues.”

He said the programme would bring tremendous economic benefits to the country.

“We know that the Citizenship by Investment programme has the potential to generate significant sums of money, and it is important particularly at this time – in terms of the economic realities of the world and economic realities of St. Lucia – to look at various modalities such as this to raise the requisite revenue,” Senator La Corbiniere said.

The minister said a board would be established to deal with matters related to the programme.

Meantime, Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony assured that the integrity of the country would be maintained and the introduction of the programme would not mean that citizenship would be “available to the highest bidder at any price, at any cost”.

Earlier this year, deputy director of the Western Hemisphere Department at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Adrienne Cheasty cautioned that while economic citizenship programmes have been a “valuable windfall to some countries”, it is vital they are “managed very impeccably”.

An economic citizenship programme had been under consideration in St. Lucia for the past year.

In August 2014, a Task Force was charged with providing recommendations on “broadening the framework under which St. Lucian citizenship might be offered as a part of a programme of investing in the country; whether St. Lucia should establish an economic citizenship programme and, if so, the best model to adopt”.

Read more: Caribbean360