Opposition leader Lennox Linton is of the view that the biggest revenue item on the 2016/2017 National budget which will be presented on Tuesday [July 26] will be the sale of passports under the island’s Citizenship by Investment Program.
Linton also said $99-million was collected in the last fiscal year under the program and in this budget year, he claimed that the government says it will be getting $200-million
“The sale of passport becomes the biggest revenue item on the books, the biggest revenue item on the budget, at 35. 5 percent of the recurrent avenue of the state, the largest single revenue item is the sale of passports as per this budget,” Linton remarked on Q95’s the Hot Seat on Monday morning. “Two years ago passport revenue was 6 percent of the total recurrent revenue. It has grown six-fold to 35.5 percent of total recurrent revenue in the budget of 2016/2017. The question the public has is how are you going to do that if for the past two years you have been achieving $23-million and $99- million, how are you going to make the jump to $200-million when the environment is more competitive, and when even institutions like the IMF are telling you, this is a source of revenue that can could come to an abrupt end and there is uncertainty over it?”
Linton stated he wants to hear from the government what will happen if the program comes to a sudden end.
“We want to hear in the budget tomorrow with clarity from Mr. Skerrit, especially from the standpoint of the monetary council and the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, what is being proposed to resolve this critical issue that could have devastating impact on the economy of Dominica, notwithstanding all the things that he will promise and talk about in the budget tomorrow. The solution now is what attracts our attention.”
Linton noted that there is a situation of unemployment in Dominica and it’s not improving.
“It doesn’t matter how much we talk about it, it doesn’t matter how many recommendations we make…,” he stated. “Thousands of young people still want jobs in Dominica and there is no reason why the situation cannot be improving.”
He stated that “all you hear from the government is excuses after excuses.”
Linton said the National Employment Programme (NEP) was supposed to improve the unemployment situation, “but it has not”.
“We have always said that the focus should be on sustainable jobs, so that you get the growth engines of the economy working,” he noted.