The government has sought to explain how funds from the Citizenship by Investment Programme were used in Dominica during the financial year 2015-2016.
Statistics presented in the budget for the financial year by Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit reveal that over $133-million ($133,022,436.80) was spent from the programme.
Over $44-million ($44,764,903.75) was used on projects around the island including funds for the National Employment Program, Housing, Small Business and Public Works (full table of expenditure is below).
Some $54-million ($54,282,396.25) was spent on ‘operations’ to include debt amortization, interest payment and budgetary support.
About $99-million ($99,047,300) was transferred to the Consolidated Fund.
In his budget presentation, Skerrit stressed the importance of the programme, describing it as a “non-tax revenue earner for the State.”
He said under his administration, “we have increased our revenue earnings to over 200-million in the last financial year.”
“Madam Speaker, we may ask the question ‘why is the Citizenship By Investment Programme so important?’ The response is clear; In an age where development finance is dwindling and the process of gaining access to available financing is becoming more onerous, Governments the world over must find credible ways and means of raising financing for development programmes,” he stated. “The alternative would be to increase domestic taxes and or contract loans.”
He stated that Dominica is not the only country implementing a Citizenship By Investment Programme “and it is not the only developing country which has introduced such a programme.”
“The United States of America, the world’s largest economy has its own programme. The United Kingdom, Malta, Cyprus and many other countries have programmes of their own,” Skerrit pointed out.
He stated that over the last fiscal year, every effort was made to increase revenue under the programme.
“In that regard, members of the Government at both the policy and technical levels, participated in several conferences around the world, particularly in the Middle East, Europe, North America and Asia, to promote the Programme,” he stated.
He noted that Government’s contribution to the capital budget will be financed with resources from the Citizenship by Investment Programme.
“This is deliberate, because increasingly, it is the intention of the Government to utilize the funds raised from the Citizenship by Investment Programme mainly for investment purposes, and to minimize the burden on the tax payers and limit the incurring of additional debt,” the Prime Minister said.