Prime Minister Dr Terrance Drew says the European Union (EU) has agreed to set up a committee to discuss and structure the Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programme that is used by several countries in the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) to lure investors to the sub-region.
Drew, who is also chairman of the nine-member OECS grouping, said that he met with EU representatives during last week’s the EU-CELAC (European Union-Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) Summit in Brussels, where various concerns regarding the programme were discussed.
“These concerns were surrounding issues of security, issues of abuse of the programme and the opportunity to be invited to be a citizen of the country,” Drew said.
Prime Minister Drew said that the concerns were ultimately addressed in a document put forward by him and the head of the Citizenship by Investment Unit, Michael Martin, which outlined how the programme has been strengthened.
“We showed in the document we sent to them that our due diligence is strong and where we think there might be abuse, we are going to address those matters,” he said.
Under the CBI, foreign investors are provided with citizenship in return for making substantial investments in the socio-economic development of these islands. But the programme has come under criticism from many western countries including the United States and Europe, with the United Kingdom last week that Dominicans will now have to acquire a visa for entry into that country. The visa requirement went into immediate effect.
Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit last week described as “unfortunate” the decision of the UK to impose with immediate effect the visa regime on Dominica.
Skerrit said that every country has a right to continuously review its own immigration policies and attitudes to address what it sees as contemporary challenges, and indeed opportunities. We have done the same and will continue to do so.
“The decision of the United Kingdom to suspend visa free access to the UK for holders of passports from a number of countries, including Dominica, must be understood in that general context.”