Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit has called for Dominicans to “guard jealously” the island’s Citizenship by Investment (CBI) program in the spirit of nationalism.
In a statement, last week, Skerrit defended the program as a “legitimate, transparent means of non-tax revenue,” which benefits the entire country, and condemned the United Workers Party (UWP) and its supporters for their continued criticism of the venture.
“There is politics, but there must be nationalism. There must be the spirit of defending and promoting out country,” he said. “What these UWP people have been doing—Mr. Linton and others have been doing—to undermine the integrity of the program is totally unacceptable. And, you have some people, because they do not like me or they do not like Labour, [they] are jumping on the bandwagon.”
Moreover, the Prime Minister revealed that the CBI program has exceeded the $80-million projection made in the 2015/2016 budget and was a major source of funding for the island’s recovery efforts after the passage of Tropical Storm Erika in August last year.
“The $80-million which we projected to raise in this current financial year, we raised much more than that; and the Economic Citizenship Program has been a major source of funding for the recovery efforts in meeting a number of obligations in underwriting the expenses associated with the reconstruction,” he divulged. “It is very helpful.”
Skerrit also noted that the program minimizes demands on the tax-paying public.
“…If the government is unable to raise funds through non-tax means, you have to impose taxes, you have to borrow money at high interest rates. And when you borrow money, somebody has to pay for it…If you were to remove the Economic Citizenship Program from those interventions, where would the government get the money from? Taxes, loans—who’s gonna pay for the loans?” he remarked.
He stated that the CBI program has funded several projects such as the National Employment Program (NEP), the establishment of Rural Business Enterprise Centers throughout the country, repairs to the Douglas-Charles Airport, and the ongoing West Bridge project.
The Prime Minister has promoted the program as an important tool of economic activity in Dominica and has previously described criticisms of the program as malicious and unfounded.