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September 9, 2020

Dominica PM headlines CBI programme webinar

As Dominica once more emerges as the world’s best CBI Programme according to the just-released CBI Index 2020, Dominican Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit joined a panel of specialists in a RIF Trust-run webinar to discuss the benefits of citizenship in this Caribbean nation. And CBI Guide was there to report.

On September 8, one of the Middle East’s leading residency and citizenship advisory firms RIF Trust, which has, for the last eight years provided tailor-made solutions to high-profile clients, organised and hosted an exclusive webinar focused on Middle East-based HNWIs interested in Dominican citizenship by investment.

The webinar, which came the day after the release of the CBI Index 2020, in which Dominica emerged for the fourth consecutive year as the world’s best CBI Programme, was hosted by RIF Trust CEO Mimoun A. Assraoui, and brought together a panel of Dominica CBI Programme specialists, including Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, Ambassador Emmanuel Nanthan, Head of the CBI Unit of Dominica, as well as  Gregor Nassief and Youssef Eldessouky, CEO and Regional Business Development Director, respectively, of Secret Bay Resort.

The second longest running CBI Programme in the industry (after Saint Kitts), at 27 years old, Dominica’s CBI Programme has, in recent years, been considered one of the very best, both in reputation and reality, from its pricing through to its processing. It has also become known as one of the world’s most efficient and transparent CIPs, combining extensive due diligence with efficiency, speed, affordability and reliability.

And in the latest CBI Index 2020 (issued by Professional Wealth Management magazine (a publication from the Financial Times), released on September 7, Dominica once more emerged with the top score (90%), making it the world’s best programme, combining as it does the balance of “an excellent reputation for meeting the needs of investors with strong due diligence, minimum investment outlay, efficient processing, and a renewed focus on family reunification”.

One of the main draws of the programme, apart from its affordability (it is currently the cheapest option, along with Saint Lucia) with its donation offer of US$100,000 for a single applicant, is its family friendliness. Recently expanding the scope for eligible dependents, as well as post-citizenship additions, Dominica scored full marks in the latest CBI Index for ‘family inclusiveness’, with Dominica’s programme allowing siblings to join an application, as well as parents and grandparents.

During the RIF Trust webinar, PM Skerrit said: “We see ourselves as playing an important role in the unification of families. Once you become a citizen of Dominica, we accord the same respect to you as we would our own citizens. We don’t differentiate, and if you were to have a child tomorrow, then that child would automatically become a citizen.”

One of the main reasons for expanding upon its scope for eligible dependants and thereby catering to larger families has been the increased demand for, and interest in, Dominca’s CBI programme from HNWIs in the Middle East region, especially the GCC countries, including the UAE.

“We have made changes with regards to dependents as we recognise that Middle Eastern families not only have large families, but as families, they are very closely linked,” explained PM Skerrit. “As a country that cares, we want to ensure that we can keep them together. We understand the cultural nuances and family structures involved and we have been able to address these particular challenges with our recent programme amendments regarding dependents.”

The freedom of movement accorded to Dominican citizenship, in terms of its passport, has always been a weaker attribute, but in the last year, the country has improved in this regard, and according to the CBI Index 2020, Dominica saw the greatest increase in visa-free and visa-on-arrival offerings since 2019 compared to the other countries evaluated. With a Dominican passport, citizens now has access to more than 140 countries, including the EU, Schengen countries, UK, Singapore and Hong Kong, with China soon to be added.

Commenting on this during the webinar, PM Skerrit discussed how a number of countries were due to be added to Dominica’s visa-free passport list, upping the power of its passport even more.

“While Covid-19 has put a halt on the final signature to the agreement, China is now settled, having agreed on terms and they will be added to the list,” he explained. Furthermore, “we have a number of countries in Africa that we are finalising and they too will be added to Dominica’s visa-free passport access in the next month”.

He added: “Our passport is well-respected, especially as towards the end of this year, we will introduce biometric passports in order to help us improve both security and integrity.”

In discussing the pandemic, PM Skerrit said: “Dominica has been open to visitors since August 7 and while we have no ban in place on any country visiting, we do have mechanisms and systems in place to mitigate the risk and we rely heavily on testing.”

Admitting that Dominica’s economy had, like other countries, been challenged by Covid, he added “the good thing is that while we may be small, we are diversified”. In fact, over the last year, Dominica has improved overall its GDP growth scores, according to the CBI Index 2020. Citizenship here also offers a tax-efficient regime, including no personal income tax, gift, inheritance tax or net worth tax.

To gain citizenship by investment to Dominica, applicants must take one of two options, either by making a non-refundable donation to the country’s EDF (US$100,000 for single applicant or US$175,000 for family of four), or by investing US$200,000 in qualifying real estate, with the option for resell after five years.

There are a number of government-backed CBI-approved developments for investment in, including the multiple award-winning Secret Bay Resort.

For more information on Dominica’s citizenship by investment programme, read our country profile by clicking here