In a clear and direct rebuke to accusations levelled by St. Kitts-Nevis’ leader of the Opposition, the Right Honourable Dr. Denzil Douglas, on Sept. 23, 2017, about the Dr. Harris-led Team Unity administration’s decision to implement a temporary Hurricane Relief Fund (HRF) investment contribution under the real estate option to assist government with repairs to public infrastructure and private property damaged during the 2017 hurricane season, Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica the Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit has labeled the pronouncement as “malicious.”
Under the HRF, a single applicant can make a nonrefundable contribution of US$150,000; a main applicant with up to three dependents, a nonrefundable contribution of US$150,000 and additional dependents regardless of age, US$25,000. This option is available for a six-month period ending March 30, 2018.
Speaking at a media engagement after the recently concluded 90th meeting of the ECCB Monetary Council at the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) Headquarters in St. Kitts Feb. 16, Prime Minister Skerrit, who is also chairman of the ECCB Monetary Council, said that “there is no race to the bottom” with respect to Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programmes in the OECS (Organization of Eastern Caribbean States).
“We in Dominica have no issue with St. Kitts-Nevis reducing its (CBI) price,” Skerrit said. “St. Kitts-Nevis has to deal with certain realities and, as a government, it has to take decisions in the interests of its citizens.”
In a statement delivered on radio and social media in the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria by Douglas, who holds a Commonwealth of Dominica diplomatic passport, criticized the move by the Harris-led administration as one of taking advantage of hurricane-ravaged Dominica and Antigua and Barbuda, who both have CBI programmes.
Douglas said: “Today, Sept. 23, 2017, the government of St. Kitts and Nevis, led by Dr. Timothy Harris, has sunk to the lowest low in a manner that is most unconscionable and calculated to undermine the desperate recovery efforts that are underway in Dominica and Antigua and Barbuda to restore those countries’ operations and the lives of their citizens to a state of normalcy as quickly as possible.”
However, the Dominican prime minister rubbished Douglas’ comments.
“Part of the problem we have with the negative publicity of our programmes comes from ourselves as citizens in the OECS, and these islands, in that sometimes we appear to be malicious in our public pronouncements on these programmes because a party in Opposition may feel if I can affect this revenue stream, then I would affect the performance of the government, then I can get in,” he said. “We do not want to engage in this country or that country outside there on any combative engagement. Sometimes issues are raised about our programmes that are far from factual.
“These programmes are dynamic. There are different realities you have to treat with as time goes by, and I believe that we in the OECS have been able to make those changes as the time goes by,” he added. “The CBI programme continues to be a very important source of revenue for all of us who have it and especially those of us who’ve been impacted by some hurricane.”