Discussing new products for existing Citizenship-by-Investment Programs (CIPs), and opportunities for new programs at this year’s Concordia Annual Summit, with Prime Minister of Saint Lucia, Allen Chastanet; Prime Minister of Solomon Islands, Rick Houenipwela; and Prime Minister of Montenegro Duško Marković.
This time each year, New York gets even more diversified as the world comes to participate in the United Nations’ General Assembly. The city is more or less in lockdown, and police sirens go off all night long. But it’s the best place to meet just about any prime minister or president – assuming they want to meet you. With the help of Concordia, an event company dedicated to promoting public/private partnership, we moderated a panel discussion on the importance of CIPs to small island states and developing nations.
Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua & Barbuda, recorded a video link in which he described the essential contribution that economic citizens make to his island nation. During this time last year, it was helping the recovery following Hurricane Irma’s devastation. This year, it is going to social projects such as the University of the West Indies, along with the construction of solar panels.
Joining the panel discussion live was Prime Minister Allen Chastanet of Saint Lucia, fresh from attending the UN Summit. “We want to transform our country with private capital to invest in new projects, develop the infrastructure and create new jobs,” he said. “We have a very clear economic development plan: we want to make Saint Lucia the best suburb in the world.”
A long way from being a suburb, the Solomon Islands are about as far from New York as one can get, whether one travels in an east or westerly direction. Rick Houenipwela, the prime minister, not only told the audience where the islands are – about three hours’ flight from Brisbane in Australia – but explained that his Government was thinking of introducing a citizenship-by-program to make the country less donor dependent, and encourage private investment.
“The Solomon Islands have great potential, they are the last great unvisited place,” he said.
The Balkan nation of Montenegro is probably even closer to introducing a citizenship program, according the Duško Marković, the prime minister. “By November we shall be up and running,” he told the audience.
Montenegro’s program is particularly impressive in our opinion, not only because it has not given a monopoly to a private firm to run and market the offering, but because it has identified areas where it wants the investment to go, and this is directly reflected in the pricing.
“We want to make our country more accessible and more attractive to foreign investors,” he said.
There are always lessons to be learnt from this fascinating industry. Migration possibly needs rebranding – especially the economic migration that nobody talks about. Citizenship-by-investment programs not only offer freedom and mobility to individuals, but also encourages foreign investment and empowers governments to change the lives of all their citizens for the better.