New Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), Timothy Antoine believes it is extremely important for citizens to know how much money is collected and spent as it relates to the much talked about Citizenship By Investment (CBI) Program.
He noted that governments must be transparent by publishing all of “the flows, the ins and the outs of the fund.”
“We believe that this is extremely important for people to know how much is collected, how it is spent,” he said at a media event on Wednesday. “So we welcome the efforts of the government to establish in the last budget specifically how much is coming from CBI and what it is being spent on. We think that’s important.”
Antoine continued, “We suggested a template that can be used to publish this information on a regular basis so anybody here, home or abroad can see this information and understand what is happening with the program.”
He pointed out that “none of us” knows how long the CBI will last.
“We hope it will last for a long time, but we really don’t know,” Antoine remarked. “Right now Dominica is doing well on it in terms of collections, but who knows the future?”
He went out to say, many of the countries in the OECS have such programs and so he advised governments to be prudent by not using the money for recurrent expenditure.
“Don’t use it to pay wages and salaries; don’t use it to pay the light bill…because when you do that, if the funds stop you’re in trouble,” he advised. “So what should you use it for? To pay down domestic arrears. If you owe local suppliers of goods and services to government, local businesses, and so use money to pay them, if you have foreign debts, pay them on that.”
He also advised that CBI funds should be used to build physical infrastructure.
“Clearly in Dominica, post Erika, there is need for roads and bridges, we also know that the government is going to use some for geothermal development, we believe that those are good uses of CBI,” he stated.