Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit will hold virtual discussions on Tuesday with a number of his colleague Prime Ministers in the region to discuss their countries’ Citizenship by Investment Programme.
Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister Gaston Browne and the prime ministers of St Lucia, St Kitts, and Grenada are all expected to be part of the zoom meeting which will seek ways to collaborate to strengthen and enhance the CBI programmes in the respective territories.
“We have taken a decision to convene a meeting tomorrow via zoom-Dominica, Antigua, Grenada, St. Kitts and St. Lucia. The prime ministers will meet to discuss the CBI programmes, the opportunities, the challenges, and of course the global environment within which our CBI programmes are operating, all of us recognizing how important a non-tax revenue this programme is for us,” Skerrit told a press conference on Monday.
Skerrit said the meeting is also geared at consolidating efforts to see what could be put in place to ensure the CBI programs are in a stronger position.
Skerrit said decisions coming out of Tuesday’s meeting will be shared with the public.
The Prime Minister also acknowledged support from the United States Government to strengthen Dominica’s CBI programme.
“Late last year a team from the US Treasury Department visited Dominica on our invitation to examine our CBI programmes in an objective manner, to see where the strengths are, where the weaknesses are and what their recommendations were,” Mr. Skerrit stated, adding that a follow-up meeting is planned with other countries in the region which operate the CBI.
“We are looking at the CBI to see how we can better position the programme to stand the test of any scrutiny from anybody,” he stated.
In March last year, the EU announced that it was considering the removal of visa-free access to the Schengen Area – a zone of 26 European countries, including Italy, France and Spain – for countries that currently operate Citizenship by Investment Programmes (CIP).
That means countries including Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis and St Lucia could be severely affected, as visa-free travel to the Schengen Area is one of the most attractive elements of their programmes.
After the announcement was made, PM Browne wrote to the EU, detailing the financial hit that these countries would face if they were to end their citizenship programmes to avoid losing their visa-free access.
He reiterated that concern during an online forum on Tuesday, also noting that removing the citizenship aspect would make it difficult for OECS countries to compete with others that offer similar programmes.