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HomeCBI ProgramsCaribbeanSt Lucian citizenship: A pawn in new Alien Landholding (Licensing) Act

St Lucian citizenship: A pawn in new Alien Landholding (Licensing) Act

By Caribbean News Global fav

TORONTO, Canada – The new Alien Landholding (Licensing) Act that makes provision for an alien to purchase, acquire or lease land in Saint Lucia; and for an alien/investor to enter and remain in Saint Lucia [akin to permanent residence] is the establishment of a scheme that resort to re-conquest of the populaces and the heritage of Saint Lucians for the benefit of the designated minority.

Hence, it is reasonable to argue as opposition leader Philip J. Pierre did in parliament March 10, 2020, that “we must be concerned about the philosophy underpinning this Alien Landholding (Licensing) Bill vs. access to land ownership and development in Saint Lucia.”

“My concern is the philosophy that determines this Bill,” Pierre explained. “Land is not an infinite resource in Saint Lucia given its topography. When it comes to selling land to aliens, we must be extremely careful because, there are people in the diaspora and young Saint Lucians who want to buy land, but the price of land is becoming exorbitant, if not cost-prohibitive. This inadvertently serves as a deterrent to local ownership, which will change the model of land ownership and influence development.”

Pierre called for the government to abide by its responsibility to “protect the land and the patrimony of the people. This is paramount. Caution and prudence are advised, given the easy to which aliens/ foreigners can buy land in Saint Lucia, facilitated by the government,” he warned.

The new Alien Landholding (Licensing) Act, in brief, subjugates parliament and converts authority externally, as well as to facilitate an immigration application to an alien to multiple entries and unrestricted length of stay on the island.

Here’s the dilemma

The Citizenship by Investment (CIP) board, unit and /or a subset or any combination of such has no business to effect what – [may grant approval of an application for an alien landholding licence]. This is a recipe to double-dipping in accounting terms and serves as a viable expedient to re-colonise the patrimony of Saint Lucia.

Further, it removes the authority and the rightful jurisdiction of parliament and the oversight of the State apparatus – to a powerful select few, to do as they wish.

The definition of an ‘alien and or an ‘unincorporated body’ [whichever it may proffer] cannot be intermingled, and permitted to apply for and granted [47.  — (1) An alien investor entrance permit entitles…] overrides immigration laws and disadvantages the attributes of CIP (Saint Lucian) passport holders.

In simple terms, why go through CIP as an investor when an ‘alien’, free from due diligence can simply purchase real estate and qualify for multiple entries [permanent residence] for any length of stay?

What’s the philosophy?

Why is citizenship by investment [ 16.—(1) The Board may grant approval of an application for an alien landholding licence if —]  playing double duty, is astounding?

  • Selling citizenship by investment under approved real estate and approving alien landholding licence is an extraordinary act of buffoonery, for all the wrong reasons.

The establishment of a tribunal [ a system within a system] against the background of a broken judicial system and the inefficiency of the legal system – signals the inability to correct what dictates the legal authority of Saint Lucia.

This also speaks to the capacity of the legal advice available to the current government to avail their expertise to such legislation, ostensibly, detrimental to the people, the land and the light.

The dilemma that confronts Saint Lucia certainly amounts to a government that has shown it has no appetite to listen, learn and implement best practice.

According to the member of parliament for Vieux- South, Dr Kenny Anthony, commenting on the new Alien Landholding (Licensing) Act, said: “Whatever comments this side makes would be of no value except for ‘historical record’  coupled with disregard as summarised by the government [side] amounts to suggestions of ‘in-sincerity’.

More dramatic is Dr Anthony’s review: “I don’t hold much hope at all; that the voices you have heard on this side will be listened to – what is a very provocative piece of legislation; … you get the impression that there is accompanying schizophrenia when dealing with policies and legislation, and if by schizophrenia we simply mean conflicting or inconsistent elements characterise by unusual disparity, then this Bill qualifies as being schizophrenic,” he said.

The guiding principle and philosophy as read in the new Alien Landholding (Licensing) Act by definition can be summarised as a bureaucratic creation of duplicity of purpose, and the formation of a powerful subclass to usurp the natural authority of Saint Lucia’s (parliament). The also serves as a tool pursuing a [permanent] residency by investment programme; and the exclusive option to divest the patrimony of Saint Lucia, unknown too many, as in times past.

The policy and lack thereof on the future of Saint Lucia, beneficial to the masses, is in treacherous territory, endangering the lives of the people.

For ease of reference, select sections of concern in the new Alien Landholding (Licensing) Act, is listed for quick reference:

Interpretation

  1. —(1) In this Act — “alien” — (a) means —

(i)         a national of a Member State, the laws of which require a citizen of Saint   Lucia to obtain a licence to own, acquire or lease land in that Member State,

(ii)        a firm, partnership or unincorporated body of persons with more than fifty percent of its membership consisting of persons referred to under subparagraph (i),

“alien investor” means an alien issued with —

(a)       a valid certificate under section 11 and a valid licence

under the former Act; or (b) a valid certificate under section 11 and a valid alien landholding licence under section 18;

“Board” means the Citizenship by Investment Board established under section 4 of the Citizenship by Investment Act, Cap. 1.20;

“international business company” has the meaning assigned to it under the International Business Companies Act, Cap. 12.14;

“unlicensed alien” means an alien that does not hold a valid licence issued under the former Act or an alien landholding licence.

(2)       For the purposes of the definition of “national of a Member

State”, a company or other legal entity is —

Part i administration – Functions of the unit

  1. Without prejudice to the Citizenship by Investment Act, Cap. 1.20, the Unit is responsible for —

(a)       processing an application for a certificate or an alien landholding licence;

Powers of the board

  1. Without prejudice to the Citizenship by Investment Act, Cap. 1.20, the Board may —

(a)       grant or deny an application for a certificate or an alien landholding licence;

Committee of the board

  1. —(1) A committee appointed by the Board under section 4(g) consists of —

(a)       the Chief Executive Officer of the Unit or his or her representative;

(b)       a legal officer of the Unit; and

(c)        one member of the Board.

Part ii certificate of eligibility – Requirement for a certificate

  1. —(1) An alien shall make an application to the Board for a certificate to be eligible to apply for an alien landholding licence to purchase, acquire, lease land or continue to hold land in Saint Lucia.

(2)       An alien with a valid licence issued under the former Act shall make an application to the Board for a certificate, if that alien intends to obtain an alien investor entrance permit.

Issue of a certificate

  1. If the Board grants approval of an application for a certificate, the Board shall issue a Certificate of Eligibility in the prescribed form to an alien.

Revocation of a certificate

  1. —(1) The Board may revoke a certificate if —

(a)       a licence issued under the former Act or an alien landholding licence is revoked under section 23;

Application requirements for an alien landholding licence

  1. —(1) An alien with a valid certificate or an attorney-at-law on behalf of an alien with a valid certificate may make an application to the Board for an alien landholding licence to purchase, acquire, lease subdivide land or to continue to hold land in Saint Lucia.

Grant of an alien landholding licence

  1. —(1) The Board may grant approval of an application for an alien landholding licence if —

(a)       the land to be purchased comprises of one acre or less or a lease of land is for a term of not less than two years;

(b)       the land is part of an approved development; and

(c)        an alien satisfies the application requirements under section 15.

Conditions for an alien landholding licence

  1. —(1) An alien investor shall —

(a)       subject to subsection (2), register the alien landholding licence, within ninety days of issuance of an alien landholding licence, at the office of the Registrar of Lands to vest an interest in land in the alien;

(b)       where the alien intends to construct a building or develop the land specified in the alien landholding licence, make an application, within one year of obtaining an alien landholding licence, to the Physical Planning and Development Division and the Development Control Authority for approval prior to constructing a building or developing the land;

Revocation of an alien landholding licence

  1. —(1) The Board may revoke a licence issued under the former Act or an alien landholding licence —

(a)       for breach of a condition of the licence issued under the former Act or an alien landholding licence;

(b)       for failure to pay the non-refundable non- development fee or non-operation fee;

Exemption

  1. —(1) Where the laws of a Member State, exempts a citizen of Saint Lucia from the requirement of obtaining an alien landholding licence to own, acquire or lease land in that Member State, a national of a Member State is exempted from the requirement of obtaining an alien landholding licence.

(3)       An order issued under subsection (2) may be issued subject to any condition that Cabinet considers necessary and shall relate to  a particular alien or to a particular interest in land or to both.

Part iv tribunal

Establishment of tribunal

  1. —(1) There is established a Tribunal to hear a matter referred to it by the Board under section 21(2).

Functions of tribunal

  1. The Tribunal is responsible for determining whether an alien or alien investor has breached the conditions of a licence issued under the former Act or an alien landholding licence and shall —

Part v forfeiture

Application for forfeiture

  1. —(1) Subject to this section, the Attorney General shall make an application to the High Court for a forfeiture declaration against land —

Part vi – alien investor entrance permit restriction to hold an alien investor entrance permit

  1. —(1) An alien investor shall not hold an alien investor entrance permit without a valid licence issued under the former Act or an alien landholding licence.

(2) An alien investor who contravenes subsection (1) commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or to both.

Eligibility for alien investor entrance permit

  1. —(1) An alien investor is eligible to make an application to the Chief Immigration Officer for an alien investor entrance permit under section 44 for himself or herself or on behalf of his or her dependant.

(2) Where an alien investor is a company, that company is eligible to apply to the Chief Immigration Officer, on behalf of a director, beneficial owner or a shareholder or a dependant of that director, beneficial owner or shareholder for an alien investor entrance permit. Request for letter in support of an application for an alien investor entrance permit

  1. —(1) An alien investor shall make a request to the Unit for a letter to support an application to the Chief Immigration Officer under section 44.

Entitlement under an alien investor entrance permit

  1. —(1) An alien investor entrance permit entitles an alien investor to enter and remain in Saint Lucia for the duration of a valid licence issued under the former Act or an alien landholding licence.

(2) An alien investor entrance permit does not entitle the holder to work in Saint Lucia without obtaining a work permit under the Labour Act, Cap. 16.04.

Transition

  1. —(1) An application made for a licence to purchase, acquire or lease land under the former Act that has not been finally determined is deemed to have been made to the Board.

(2) A licence to purchase, acquire or lease land that was issued under the former Act continues to be valid for the duration it was approved at the commencement of this Act.

– End –

Conclusion  

The new Alien Landholding (Licensing) Bill passed in parliament, March 11, 2020, at approximately 02:02 am. The opposition benches were vacant, suggesting displeasure to the philosophy that succeeds, “this Bill qualifies as being schizophrenic”.

Common sense determines a change of government to immediately revoke what amounts to “schizophrenic legislation” – the new Alien Landholding (Licensing) Bill, among others.

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