An authorized Citizenship by Investment Program (CIP) agent in Dominica, attorney at law, Duncan Stowe is encouraging citizens to guard and protect the sector.
Stowe, who has been an authorized agent for eighteen (18) years, made the appeal while addressing the fifth official meeting of the Citizenship By Investments Programmes Association in Dominica on Thursday 15 December 2016.
He said while there have been changes and challenges within the sector, “these are exciting times”.
“I believe that notwithstanding the competition from much more advanced countries, we as a region, and Dominica in particular, has held its own in marketing and maintaining a program with integrity,” Stowe said.
“Be that as it may, I do believe also that we still have some issues that need to be addressed. Ladies and gentlemen I am one of those who subscribe to the view that we have to guard and protect this fragile sector,” he continued.
Stowe proposed that the sector can be protected by agents self-regulating the industry and the state implementing and enforcing standards and guidelines.
“Agents must know their clients; we must know who they are, where they live, what they do for a living, and what is their source of income. Protection must also come through the policy makers enacting and enforcing minimum standards for all agents,” he stated.
According to Stowe, it should be mandatory that agents have office space in the jurisdiction that they operate and these offices must be staffed, must have professional indemnity insurance and timely and proper accountability of funds “should be a must and not an option”. Stowe urged policy makers to ensure that responsibility is held at the highest level by all agents. As this “is serious business”.
Further, he noted that the Citizenship By Investment program has come under “tremendous attack, primarily from political opposition forces”.
“Often times you will not from the attackers that persons who are operating the program are involved in a Citizenship By Investment program. What you will hear is that so and so, or this person is in the business of peddling passports. This to my mind is the highest level of ignorance displayed by persons, who often times should know better, or it may be that such statements are premised on malice,” Stowe said.
While Stowe acknowledged that the money generated through the Citizenship By Investment program is being used to fund national projects, job creation, caring for the elderly, infrastructural development, youth empowerment and resettlement of displaced residents due to Tropical Storm Erika, among other, he called on government to ensure that there is full accountability for the funds obtained under the program.
He emphasized that the funds generated from the program is public revenue and as such the people must be satisfied that the program is working for them.
“I wish to reiterate that the CIP is a tool for development for all of us. Small state like ours have few options, we have all witnessed the dwindling of grants. Politics or no politics, the monies derived from the CIP is a non-tax revenue. We have few options available today to source funds to manage our states. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s not just the government and agents but it’s the responsibility of all citizens to protect the program,” Stowe stated.
The two-day Citizenship By Investment Programmes Association meeting convened at the Fort Young Hotel with representatives from member countries namely, St. Lucia, Grenada, St. Kitts, Antigua and Dominica. It ended on Friday 16 December 2016.
Part of the agenda of the meeting was to formalize the Citizenship By Investment Programmes Association and set the way forward in establishing the integrity of the programs in the Eastern Caribbean.