On Monday April 24, 2017, the Hon. Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Mr. Roosevelt Skirret convened a Consultation on the Development Prospects in Dominica. This one day national consultation was held at the State House Conference Center to discuss Dominica’s Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Program. The objective of the meeting was to analyze the Economy of Dominica in context of budget realities and chart out a plan for future growth and success.
The Discussion was propelled by Ambassador Steve Ferrol who welcomed the guests and penal members and invited them to participate in the discussion on the ‘Development Prospects for Dominica within the context of the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CBIP) as a platform for raising the Funds necessary to Finance Development Activities’. Prime Minister and Minster for Finance Roosevelt Skerrit from here on took to the podium and put his views forward. He said the discussion must be viewed in the wider framework of the current economic situation in the world.
During his remarks, he said “Whatever we seek and aspire to achieve must be within the capacity and capability” to sponsor and sustain 72000 population of Dominica. He showed his gratitude towards the fellow sister Caribbean countries “who have been very kind and generous to this country and its inhabitants”.
He warned the fellow countrymen about the sad state of finance in the country and said, “Reality is ladies and gentlemen that inflows of direct foreign investment into the Caribbean have declined”. He continued saying that “we need to analyze what is possible and what is practical within the constraints of our population base and very limited resources”. He stressed that a wise management of funds, financial restraints and social responsibilities must be taken into consideration to chart out a growth path for sustainable growth of the economy. He also stressed upon the role of private sector in the development and growth of the nation.
The Prime Minister asserted in his speech that the expenditure must be predicated on an assured projected revenues- “what you’re guaranteed to earn”. In the same vein, he also talked about the role of Tourism industry and said “Tourism is everybody’s business”. He said that destructive actions can damage the economy and threaten the economic sustainability.
PM Skirret also talked about how the prolonged criticism and misinformation attacks regarding CBI have affected the schemes reputation and adversely effected capital inflow endangering the Citizenship by Investment program. He continued that the decline in CBI performance can severely affect the economy since CBI is crucial and trusted revenue generating scheme which, therefore, should remain healthy for the economy to stay afloat and “cruising”!
He continued saying, “To this end, the art of good governance in the year 2017 will demand that we seek out ways and means of managing our slender resources to the equitable benefit of all 72000 resident Dominicans and the thousands of visitors who contribute annually to our economic upkeep.”
After PM Skirret, Financial Secretary Rosamund Edwards took to the podium who pointed out that the Citizenship by Investment Program of Dominica is based stringently on the background and due diligence checks by various reputed agencies to ensure that no questionable application is entertained. She also pointed out that the CBI program from the very beginning has been timely mended and improvised for greater efficiency. She has interesting data and percentages to show how CBI has benefitted the economy and also said that by 2030 a GDP ratio of 60% is expected.
Rosamund reasoned that the ‘Government has limited options to maximize the resources’ and CBI is a wise direct foreign capital generating scheme. She said that the revenues earned by this citizenship program are “directly utilized” to contribute to the economic social development projects based in Dominica. She further explained that the lack of these revenues may compel the government to either overtax the citizens or borrow externally which is not a path to sustainable growth of the economy.
A panel discussion preceded after this speech with presentations from four experts namely, Historian Dr. Lennox Honeychurch, Karen William of Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, McCarthy Marie an Economist, Dr. Eisenhower Douglas Economist.
Dr. Lennox Honeychurch, talked about ‘A historical perspective of development in Dominica (Strategies used by past Administrations)’. He has some interesting inputs to share with the audience on how the Citizenship program borrows the basic migration idea from the colonial past of the country.
Karen William talked about ‘Financing economic development in the ECCU, the CBI as a tool for financing development (and not consumption)’. She pointed out that CBI has been a pertinent tool to finance sustainable economic and social development, resilient infrastructure and also repaying of loans.