The Government is being pushed to consider adopting a citizenship-by-investment programme with the funds gained through the process used for various development projects.
Julian Dixon, CEO and broker at Jamaica Sotheby’s International Realty, made the call on Friday during the launch of the luxury real estate dealer’s operation in Jamaica. “Of Course, I would expect that like many other countries in the world, including some of our own brothers and sisters in the Caribbean, that there would be a developed criterion which would determine eligibility.
This would include but not be limited to individuals of sound character and one’s ability to meet a minimum foreign investment value,” Dixon told the audience in attendance at the AC Marriot Hotel in St Andrew. She said funds gained from the project should be used to invest in the country’s infrastructure, real estate, job creation and business development.
Dixon pointed out to Sunday Finance that St Kitts and Nevis, which pioneered the citizenship-by-investment programme in 1984, has invested upwards of US$300 million from the programme in modernising its infrastructure and said Jamaica could do the same.
At least five countries in the Caribbean — St Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada and St Lucia — have citizenship-by-investment programmes. Under the programme sometimes referred to as “economic citizenship”, people wishing to acquire citizenship of a country with which they have no previous ties, can obtain citizenship after meeting certain criteria and making a significant investment in that country’s economy.
Investments in the five Caribbean countries listed above start at US$100,000 and run into millions in some cases. Some programmes such as the one in St Kitts and Nevis require a donation in a State fund. Most seek to acquire citizenship because of ease of travel. It is not clear if Jamaica holds such advantage as other islands.
Citizenship-by-investment programmes have helped to attract high net worth individuals to the islands. Dixon is after the same cohort locally and internationally with Jamaica Sotheby’s International Realty — a company she owns and operates with Alexander Melville. Both bring 27 years of combined experience in real estate.
With Sotheby’s, they are targeting the upper end of the market with luxury real estate. The brand was founded in 1976 in the United States and now operates in 78 countries, with Jamaica being the latest addition.
“Sotheby’s International Realty is the number one network for luxury properties in the world. The shared professional knowledge of its members enables us to create new opportunities for local sellers of real estate as well as those from around the globe who are looking to buy exclusive properties in our beautiful island located in the heart of the Caribbean Sea,” Dixon said in prepared remarks.
“Jamaica offers a diverse luxury lifestyle which appeals to a wide variety of buyers,” said Philip White, president and CEO, Sotheby’s International Realty.
“In recent years, closed transactions have seen steady growth and new construction is booming on the island.
The Jamaican market has historically appreciated year-after-year with interest from domestic and international interest in North America, Europe, Canada, and most recently the Middle East, motivated by the island’s many opportunities and its tourism sector. I want to welcome Julian and her team to the network and look forward to working together to support the island.”