The Citizenship by Investment Programme is one that is constantly in flux and is not to be entered lightly.
This year marks the 35th anniversary of CBI, a concept that was pioneered by the newly-independent St. Kitts and Nevis and that became an essential feature of its nation-building process.
Indeed, standing apart from all other countries St. Kitts and Nevis adopted a broad view of citizenship, entitling a person to “be registered as a citizen, if the Cabinet is satisfied that such person has invested substantially in St Christopher and Nevis.”
The notion was included, a year later, in Austria’s 1985 Nationality Act, and was subsequently incorporated in the legislation of a number of countries, ultimately providing the necessary legal basis for citizenship by investment programmes seeking to improve the socio-economic landscape of the nations that implemented them.
Today, the CBI is top of mind with respect to the Caribbean, where Commonwealth of Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis and St Lucia each boast active programmes with dedicated CBI units and private third-party firms. It is here that the greatest strides have been made towards intergovernmental cooperation and data sharing, particularly with respect to assessing applicants and their source of funds in investments.
In Dominica, the CBI has a tremendous response as more than 2000 investors took benefits of the scheme in the year 2018. Therefore, the Commonwealth of Dominica stands top in the chart of 13 countries which offer Citizenship by Investment in the report released by Professional Wealth Management firm – A guide to global citizenship the 2019 CBI index – a publication from the Financial Times.
For instance, the CBI programme has provided a new ray of hope to a small island country Dominica, which suffered the devastation of the strongest storm in the history of the world, hurricane Maria.
By the support of CBIP it became possible for the construction of Hurricane-resilient homes for 6,680 households to secure future of inhabitants.
In addition, the CBIP is currently funding the construction of five hotels and ecolodges that will have a total capacity of 628 rooms, creating over 1,000 jobs during construction and providing direct employment for approximately 900 hospitality workers, and supporting the livelihoods of those connected with tourism across the island, such as farmers, fishers, taxi drivers and tour operators.
The report rankings released by PWM read as Dominica on the top with 91% rating of six pillars, St Kitts and Nevis 89%, Grenada 87%, St Lucia 84%, Antigua and Barbuda 79%, Vanuatu 78%, Cyprus 66%, Malta 65%, Turkey 61%, Bulgaria 57% and Austria, Cambodia at 54%, and Jordan is lowest in the list with only 51% rating points calculated by the independent firm.
The changes of this past year once again underline that the citizenship by investment industry is one that is constantly in flux.
Whilst interest from applicants is expected to continue in its upward trend, Montenegro’s teething problems, the short-lived Moldovan anomaly, Vanuatu’s many citizenships by investment formulas, and variations in investment thresholds, show that this is not an industry to enter lightly.
2019 and 2020 will be a vital time for new entrants to iron out wrinkles and get their programmes off the ground.
At the other end of the scale, the Caribbean will likely maintain its dominance, using its lengthy experience to provide certainty and, where necessary, refine processes.