The highly anticipated CBI Index 2023 was unveiled on Thursday morning. As featured in the Financial Times, this year’s CBI Index has once again recognized Caribbean jurisdictions among the top performers.
Launched under the title “A Guide to Global Citizenship: The 2023 CBI Index,” it has once again ranked St Kitts and Nevis as the world’s best for the third consecutive year. This year, Dominica is in second place, while Saint Lucia and Grenada share the third position.
The CBI Index Report 2023 features a total of 12 CBI jurisdictions, spanning across Europe, Africa, the Middle East, CARICOM, Asia and Oceania.
James McKay – the mastermind behind the CBI Index says that Citizenship by Investment Programmes are a win-win solution for both investors and the CBI-offering countries. He also commended the Caribbean countries for their meticulous attention to due diligence protocols.
The report reveals that it’s not only the global leadership that’s closely monitoring the due diligence of these programmes, but discerning investors are also showing keen interest in programmes that prioritize background checks to ensure their safety & and security.
This year’s Index report also acknowledged the commitment of Dominica and St Kitts and Nevis towards adhering to the 6 important measures implemented by the United States to strengthen the security and integrity of their CBI Programmes.
St Kitts and Nevis stand out for taking immediate and decisive action to improve their programme’s structure with the introduction of a new investment option with increased contribution. It secured the top spot in this year’s CBI Index with a score of 86%.
The Federation has also received a commendable score across different pillars including in standard of living, due diligence and quality of life.
Despite falling to second place this year with a score of 83%, Dominica is also making efforts to comply with international demands to enhance its vetting, and due diligence while simultaneously ensuring the long-term health of the programme.
The CBI Index noted that Dominica continues to stand out as one of the most successful real estate options under the CBI programme.
Besides this, Saint Lucia maintains its top-three ranking despite a drop of six points from the previous year. A lower due diligence score has resulted in Saint Lucia ranking behind its regional peers.
Grenada has an improved score this year in three pillars including Due Diligence, Standard of Living, and Certainty of Product.
Another Caribbean country, Antigua and Barbuda with a 73% score has been called out by the CBI Index 2023 for poor performance in due diligence and ease of processing pillar.
This year again Malta has retained its sixth ranking with 58 points. The index acknowledged the country’s efforts for new due diligence enhancements.
With the demise of Montenegro, Vanuatu’s ranking also improved from eighth to seventh this year.
Türkiye has leapfrogged Egypt in this year’s rankings and is now in eighth position with a score of 55 points compared to Egypt’s 51.
Despite moving to 10th in the rankings from 12th in 2020, Austria continues to be weighed down due to having the highest minimum investment outlay of all CBI Programme.
Rounding out the overall rankings are Cambodia and Jordan in 11th and 12th positions, the Index Report says that these two jurisdictions still need to make large strides with respect to tightening due diligence processes in order to raise their profile in the market.
The CBI Index
The CBI Index is featured every year in the PWM Magazines and provides an overview of citizenship by investment programmes worldwide.
The CBI Index is a rating system designed to assess the performance and appeal of Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programmes across a diverse range of indicators and measures. CBI programmes allow eligible individuals and their families to obtain citizenship in exchange for making a significant financial contribution to the host country.
James McKay- the mastermind of the CBI Index, who shares expertise in global trend analyses says that this year’s report is divided into three phases.
He said that three phases are the proper description of the major developments in economic citizenship over the past 12 months, CBI Index country performance and critical analyses of the data.
“The first phase involved comprehensive primary and secondary research to chart all major developments in the world of economic citizenship over the past 12 months. While the second phase comprised a detailed exploration of official macroeconomic and programme statistics to be used in evaluating CBI Index country performance,” he mentioned in the report.
The Nine Pillars of Excellence
The primary methodological objective of the CBI Index is to isolate factors — or ‘pillars’ — that satisfactorily measure programme features and jurisdictional desirability.
“The pillars themselves were selected both for their relevance and comprehensiveness of measurement, allowing readers to perform an overall review of the programmes, or evaluate programme attributes individually,”CBI Index 2023.
Each of the nine pillars are scored out of a maximum of ten points, calculated on an averaging basis from the scores of composite indicators and sub-indicators.
The maximum score attainable by a programme is 90, with all final scores also expressed in terms of a percentage of the total points available. For example, a perfect 90-point score would be expressed as 100 per cent.
Rankings in Nine Pillars
St Kitts and Nevis is sitting at a top of the overall rankings and maintains a perfect score of 10 in four of the nine pillars under assessment. On the other hand, Dominica secured a perfect score of 10 in three pillars, while Saint Lucia gained 10 scores in two pillars.
St Kitts and Nevis, Dominica and Saint Lucia have secured third position with a score of six in the pillar Standard of Living. The CBI Index said that St Kitts and Nevis gained 9.1 percent and outperformed in the GDP Growth Measure. Not only that, Dominica achieves a higher score than its regional partners for Human Security.
The Freedom of Movement pillar ranked St Kitts and Nevis, Dominica and Saint Lucia on the second position with a score of seven. As per the CBI Index, while their visa-free status has been under the spotlight due to pressure from US, EU and UK authorities, the five Caribbean nations of Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, and Saint Lucia still afford powerful travel freedom.
Within this group, St Kitts and Nevis has visa-free/visa-on-arrival access to 155 countries, followed closely by Saint Lucia with scores of 146 respectively.
Dominica and Saint Lucia achieve a perfect score of 10 points in the Minimum Investment Outlay. Within that group, Dominica and Saint Lucia maintain the industry’s lowest threshold with US$100,000.
St Kitts and Nevis secured a score of nine points as it has doubled its Sustainable Island State Contribution (SISC) donation option minimum threshold to US$250,000 in July 2023.
There are no changes from the 2022 CBI Index to scores under the Mandatory Travel or Residence Pillar. The Caribbean jurisdictions of Dominica, St Kitts and Nevis, and Saint Lucia have no travel or minimum residency requirements, and all achieve the maximum score of 10.
Three Caribbean countries retained their no 1 rank in the Mandatory Travel or Residence Pillar.
This year, the CBI Index witnessed significant modification with securing of the top position in the Citizenship Timeline Pillar by Dominica and Saint Lucia with a score of nine. In the previous year, Saint Lucia secured the third position .
As per the CBI Index, these countries programme applications that can be completed in less than four months.
While St Kitts and Nevis previously attained a top score for its timeline, the country’s CIU increased processing times to 120 days and rescinded its ‘accelerated CBI application’ option in July 2023, which impacted its timeline score. It managed to occupy the second position with a score of 8.
The Caribbean jurisdictions of Dominica and St Kitts and Nevis share the top rank with Malta for the Ease of Processing Pillar. This reflects the programmes’ ability to balance the administrative demands of the application process with quick and efficient processing.
With a score of eight points, Antigua and Barbuda, Egypt, Grenada, Saint Lucia, Türkiye, and Vanuatu all share the second position.
St Kitts and Nevis retained its top position in the Due Diligence Pillar from the previous year due to the CIU’s changes made as part of a rapid implementation of the ‘Six Principles’.
It includes mandatory interviews and measures to stop financial irregularities in the real estate option to safeguard the Programme’s reputation. Dominica and Grenada follow with nine points.
Saint Lucia secured the second position with nine points in the Family Pillar with Malta. While Saint Lucia misses out on a perfect score due to its exclusion of grandparents in an application, Malta’s CBI excludes the main applicant’s siblings.
With eight points, Dominica dropped two positions due to its tightening of requirements for evidencing the degree of dependency of children 18 or over.
After previously topping the Family Pillar, St Kitts and Nevis dropped to seven points and ranked fourth.
As the only country to attain a score of 10 in the Certainty of Product Pillar, St Kitts and Nevis’ performance reflects its swift response to the recent unprecedented international pressure imposed on all Caribbean Citizenship by Investment programmes.
Occupying second position Dominica secured seven points in the pillar. As per the CBI Index 2023, Dominica has taken steps to improve investor vetting through, for example, the enhanced due diligence requirements imposed on particular nationalities, the absence of additional changes as undertaken by St Kitts and Nevis, and the recent loss of visa-free travel to the UK, have impacted its performance.
As per the report, St Kitts and Nevis’ consistency in maintaining the top most position for the second consecutive year underscores a political will to take a proactive leadership role in the long-term sustainability of the industry through good governance, enhanced due diligence, and regional harmonisation with international partners.
Benefits of CBI Programmes for the Caribbean
It further added with five successfully operating CBI programmes, the Caribbean is widely regarded as the “cradle of Citizenship by Investment”. These small islands with limited resources have experienced significant economic boosts through the infusion of funds into their economies.
CBI programmes usually offer uncomplicated investment options in the form of either a government donation, which is almost always ploughed into socio-economic projects (such as building schools, hospitals, and necessary infrastructure such as roads and bridges), or through the purchase of real estate neither existing or planned projects, or developments under construction.
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