The Government of St Lucia, stating that the island has emerged as a new favourite for investors due to a growing economy, stable business environment and tax regime, rolled out a fresh appeal for applicants to its Citizens by Investment (CIP) programme this week.
In a press announcement midweek, the Government said St Lucia has to become a preferred destination for foreign investors, noting that it does not limit the amount of foreign ownership or control in the establishment of a business in the country, allowing 100 per cent foreign ownership of companies in any sector.
Currently, there are no restrictions on foreign investors investing in military or security-related businesses or natural resources. Trade licences and other approvals/licences may be required prior establishment.
The St Lucian Government outlined how, since launched in 2016, the CIP of St Lucia has become “one of the top performers in the Caribbean region with demand from high net-worth individuals (HNWIs).”
The Government, newly elected, said in the press announcement that it will be using funds brought in by the programme “to develop more advanced public infrastructure and uplift the standard of living of its people.”
It stated how, “despite being the newest Caribbean programme in this industry, St Lucia offers an advanced, secure and transparent programme. With more foreign direct investments coming into the country via its prestigious CIP Programme, the Government is preparing a road map to engage in constructing and uplifting schools, roads, health care, and other public infrastructure through the funds generated by the Citizenship by Investment Programme.”
Stating that St Lucia has emerged as one of the top choices for the HNWIs; it also cited a report of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, which has projected the island to have its highest gross domestic product (GDP) growth in 2022 mainly due to tourism.
The Government claimed 13.1 per cent growth in the first six months of 2022, “linked to the policy of welcoming direct foreign investment and channeling these funds into the most productive sectors of the economy. “
The Government noted that St Lucia is now ranking 93 out of 190 countries in the World Bank’s ease of doing business index for 2022.
Once an agriculture-based economy, with the banana industry employing the majority of its citizens, St Lucia has now altered course and also focuses on tourism and banking services.
The Government outlined how investors have therefore generally looked towards the accommodation and hospitality industry. It stated, “Developing tourist sites and catering to the needs of its large number of visitors, investors have discovered major opportunities for gaining prominent returns on minimal risk investments.”
It also noted that the World Bank approved a US$21.9-million loan for developing the renewable energy sector in St Lucia which will be used for increasing geothermal and hydroelectric capacity.
In a move to boost manufacturing and exports, St Lucia has also introduced tax holidays for manufacturing units, a move aimed at widening its manufacturing base and increasing its exports while also encouraging the use of local materials and labour. Approved manufacturing enterprises are entitled to a tax holiday for up to 15 years, depending on the local value provided by approved products.
The Government concluded, “In these ways St Lucia offers a highly conducive business environment which has been drawing investors from all over the world. many high net worth individuals (HNWIs) have shown a keen interest in becoming citizens of St Lucia, an opportunity provided for by its CIP.”