Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit has said that Dominica’s current Citizenship By Investment (CBI) program is a very robust one which can stand the test of scrutiny from any independent arbitrator.
He said the newly-reopened Jungle Bay resort at Soufriere, which is fully financed by the CBI program, is a testament to the benefits that are being derived from this program.
“This is going to create jobs for us citizens of Dominica directly and very importantly, indirectly. I think it is very important for us as Dominicans to recognise that there are some things in our country, while we will always have questions about – constructive criticism to and for – there are certain things like the CBI, we protect it, we promote its positive image to ensure that we can see a continued benefit of this program to our citizens,” the prime minister argued.
He said, speaking as Dominica’s Minister for Finance, that had it not been for the Citizenship By Investment program, after Hurricane Maria the country would not have been where it is today as a nation.
“For several months we received no tax revenue and I have not met not one single Dominican who has ever said to me that I would like to pay more tax in Dominica. Everybody who I have met has said look: ‘Skerrit can you take out this tax, can you give me duty free’ and so on and I am a proponent for the reduction in taxation and therefore had it not been for the Citizenship By Investment program which demonstrated its resilience because literally, days after the Hurricane, within 90 days after the hurricane, we were back in business in respect to the CBI program,” Skerrit explained.
He said that the CBI program was able to generate revenue to repair homes, to build homes, to dredge rivers, to protect lives and properties and to restore the economy.
The CBI has generated a significant amount of revenue for the country during the tenure of the current administration. According to figures published by the Official Gazette of the Commonwealth of Dominica, 3,961 CBI applications were approved for Dominica during the period August to December 2018, alone.
Meantime, a former government senator in Antigua and Barbuda, is calling on Caribbean leaders including Dominica, to stop selling passports through the Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Programme.
Anthony Stewart said, while delivering the feature address at the Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM) election reform rally held in Roseau recently, that the CBI programme is creating a “lazy man’s” economy.
“Our leaders must stop the selling of passports. These passports are creating what is called a lazy man’s economy. If the other economic drivers are not working it means that the money that comes in from selling passports will be used to pay government workers…government workers will have money to spend in the economy but many of the persons living in Dominica will have no work…to get money to spend,” Stewart stated. “Our leaders must ensure that when they are elected, they go and work and make sure our economies become more reliant.”
Stewart is of the view that this programme can damage the reputation of a country.
“How many citizens have we created by selling passports? Can this new citizen be a deciding factor in our elections or worst yet can a CBI citizen decide that he or she wants to become the Prime Minister of Dominica and use his money to mobilize all those thousands of CBI citizens?” he asked.
Stewart equates the selling of passports to “the selling of souls of our nations” which he said will lead to our destruction.
“We see the reputational damage being conflicted on the islands by the many crooks. Visa requirements imposed by certain countries like Canada and the difficulties now in getting a visa when you go to Barbados is nothing in comparison with what is roaming on the horizon if our leaders continue to sell our souls,” he warned.
He pointed out that global institutions can cut off access to Dominica’s local banks because of the risk of money laundering and terrorist financing, created by selling passports and cautioned that if this programme isn’t discontinued, Dominica will not be the same.