By Caribbean News Now contributor
CASTRIES, Saint Lucia — The Saint Lucia Labour (SLP) continues to request Prime Minister Allen Chastanet to reveal details of Citizenship by Investment (CIP) funds as required by law; demonstrate respect for accountability and transparency, and to stop “misleading parliament and the people of Saint Lucia on the use of CIP monies.”
“If you don’t answer, the opposition will table a formal question in the House to force a response. Because, the people have a right to know,” the SLP said.
Section 33, subsection 3 states: “The Minister for Finance shall lay before Parliament every financial year for its approval the purposes to which the funds will be allocated.”
The central issue said the SLP “is not how the prime minister intends to use monies to be earned from the CIP. This is a separate issue. It is “how has the CIP monies collected since 2016 has been used by the prime minister” and that “we must know where the CIP money gone.”
“The prime minister during the last sitting of parliament [ June 11] attempted to explain that the budget estimates for 2019/2020 contain projects which are identified as projects to be funded under the CIP. The SLP maintains that the prime minister never mentioned in his presentation on the estimates, nor in his budget statement, any project to be financed with CIP monies.”
The Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) spokesman for CIP, Ernest Hilaire wrote on social media, Thursday, June 13, 2019:
“What has he done with CIP money collected from 2016 to the end of the 2018-2019 financial year?”
“Attempts by him and his surrogates to present me as a liar will not substitute for his failure to state to parliament and the people of Saint Lucia where has the CIP money gone for the last three years. He must answer the question,” Hilaire explained.
“He [prime minister] claims that in the budget of 2019/2020, he has projects which will be funded by CIP funds and therefore he has answered the question. Further, he claims that he has finally shared the list of projects. Close examination of his explanation will reveal that he is determined to sidestep the central issue which my question raises. The simple issue is and remains – the country needs to and deserves to know how much money has been collected since 2016 and how has it been spent?”
“Plain and simple,” Hilaire wrote, “Not how the CIP money will be spent in the future. Account for the money you have collected since 2016?”
The SLP has on prior occasions called on the prime minister to answer, “Where is the CIP money?
In 2014, then prime minister, Dr Kenny Anthony, said that Chastanet, as tourism minister in the 2006 to 2011 United Workers Party (UWP) government, was at the centre of an earlier failed project in Black Bay that ended up costing Saint Lucia taxpayers almost EC$60 million (US$22 million).
“This government is a failure. Every single project that it puts its hand on is tainted or grossly mismanaged. And every time it is the people of Saint Lucia to pay the price. We cannot continue with such gross incompetence in government. We must mobilise and demonstrate our rejection of the UWP government,” Hilaire concluded.
“The difficulty that the prime minister has with answering the question should be obvious. He does not want to, because he will have to reveal how much he paid to settle the Range Developments … and possibly, just possibly, how much may have been spent on his honeymoon with Desert Star Holdings (DSH).” Hilaire said.
Previously Hilaire expressed concerns to CIP amendments [and now more amendments] amid heightened competition from Dominica and Grenada, said: “The CIP has been decimated and vulgarised by the incompetence and misguided conceptions of the present government. The continuous changes and contradiction in how the programme should [operate] confuse the market. Worse, the lack of transparency and accountability has raised questions on the integrity of the use of money earned so far. This is the challenge that the present government must overcome.”
In contrast, prime minister Skerrit made use of Dominica’s citizenship by investment (CBI) programme to entirely fund the Housing Revolution and nine big projects. Fiscal discipline and prudent management of CBI inflows have been pivotal in financing Dominica’s economic recovery, climate adaptation, and mitigation programmes.
The housing developments, led by Montreal Management Consultants Est. (MMCE), will build 5,000 homes across the island to resettle hundreds of Dominicans who lost their homes.
The government of Dominica and MMCE have since developed a coherent national policy framework, making optimum use of resources for building climate resilience infrastructure and financial resilience.