Prime Minister of Dominica, Dr Roosevelt Skerrit, provided updates on the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CBI) on Monday during the budget address. He said that in the coming months, the country aims to carry out a comprehensive audit of the programme.
He said the government has started the process to recruit an internationally vetted management oversight team to advise and oversee the management of the CBI Programme.
Besides this, the Dominica government will also revoke the citizenship of people who made false declarations or misrepresentations regarding their application for visas in other countries.
During the address, he also emphasized that in upcoming months the Dominica government will introduce “New Certificates of Naturalization” along with undertaking a comprehensive audit of the programme.
PM Skerrit said that the Government will also take the following measures:
- Assess and reduce the number of agents and promoters of our CBI programme.
- Strictly enforce the current regulations regarding the advertisement of the Programme by developers, agents and promoters.
- Strictly enforce the regulated fees to be charged for citizenship.
- Further strengthen the legislation and procedure to further restrict the changing of names by citizens.
- Introduce robust legislation to strengthen the framework of the programme.
Furthermore, he added that the Citizenship by Investment Programme has been a driving force behind Dominica’s economic and social progress.
Prime Minister Skerrit highlighted how the CBI has played a crucial role in the country’s recovery from natural disasters, such as Tropical Storm Erika and Hurricane Maria. He added that the programme also extended support to the country in building resilience homes, creating job opportunities and funding other essential services like education and healthcare.
“CBI enabled Dominica to respond & recover at remarkable pace from the devastation of Tropical Storm Erika and Hurricane Maria. It has enabled us to rebuild homes and reroof thousands of homes in this country, created jobs and employment for several people, including at the various award-winning international hotels that have been built,”.
– PM Roosevelt Skerrit.
Besides this, he emphasized that the Government has been always encouraging changes to the CBI Programme and would continue to do so in the future.
Addressing concerns raised by international partners, PM shared his efforts in engaging with the United States Government in February and the European Commission earlier this year to strengthen the CBI.
He added over the last 18 months, Dominica has taken proactive steps to address the concerns raised by international partners. The PM said these measures included the discontinuation of granting citizenship to citizens of the Kurdistan region in Iraq, Russia and Belarus.
“I also met with officials of the United Kingdom Government on a few occasions over the past months, all in an effort to find ways to address their concerns,” said PM Skerrit.
He said as part of the last 18 months’ guidelines, the CBI unit staff also received anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing training from a US-based firm.
Prime Minister stated that the Government also issued notices to revoke the citizenship of people who made false declarations or misrepresentations regarding their application for visas in partner countries.
“We introduced biometric travelling documents to improve security, and revised and updated the certificate of naturalization, including by increasing its security features,”.
The PM said the Government also restructured the Citizenship by Investment Unit and engaged an expert compliance officer to ensure all procedures are updated and quality control is strictly followed, and the IT system is upgraded.
“We also developed a new robust risk assessment, and engaged firms from the US and UK to interview the CBI applicants,”.
He said Dominica has been reporting monthly the applicants rejected to the Join Regional Communication Centre (JRCC) and have given it permission to share the information with other jurisdictions in the OECS.
Additionally, Prime Minister said that Dominica has striven to remain on the cutting edge of industry changes and requirements. He said the government have been responsive to the requests and concerns of partnering countries/governments and other entities.
He said Dominica has a robust system that is continuously monitored to make the necessary and timely adjustments.