The Government of Dominica is still trying to clear the air on allegations brought by the Opposition of unreported funds from Dominica’s Citizenship By Investment (CBI) programme.
Speaking at Parliament last week, Leader of the Opposition, Hon Lennox Linton claimed that it appears that $1 billion from the CBI was not reflected in the 2019/2020 National Budget.
In a press conference convened by the United Workers Party on Wednesday, 8th August, 2019, President of the UWP, Senator Isaac Baptiste reiterated the accusation.
“In his response to the 2019/ 2020 budget, Hon. Lennox Linton rightfully observed, and noticed and reported and queried the amount stated in the said 2019/2010 budget; in that, official information released by the Government of Dominica in the Official Gazette suggests that the amount of money reported is inconsistent with what should have been collected based on the numbers of the passports issued and we asked for [an] explanation,” he stated.
Senator Baptiste lamented, “The Minister of Finance and Prime Minister, and the whole Cabinet of ministers who have collective responsibility to answer any question regarding the operation of the Government of Dominica failed to respond and answer the question”.
Meanwhile, speaking on the Kairi Fm’s Heng on Thursday morning, Prime Minister Skerrit dismissed the claims citing the Opposition’s inability to understand the Budget process. He asserted that there were no funds unreported as per the CBI programme and that Hon. Lennox Linton put forward a subjective statement which lacked analysis and an objective review.
According to PM Skerrit, “ It speaks to his [Hon. Lennox Linton’s] inability to understand how government functions, and how the budget process is, and how do you treat revenue and expenditure where these provisions were made.”
He further stated, “The problem with Mr. Linton is that he doesn’t know that he doesn’t know and therefore he does not seek advice from anybody who may know something and who may be able to intelligently and objectively advise him on the matter. So, he relies on people who do not know and he relies on himself who is ignorant of the processes.”
Honorable Skerrit stated that in the National Budget Presentation, only the revenue obtained by Government (which is a projection) is presented and that revenues from institutions which are wholly owned by the state such as the Port, Dowasco and DBS Radio are excluded. He explained that these institutions “are governed by specific legislation and they are given the authority to account to the taxpayers of this country by way of financial statements which are all laid on the table at the end of the financial year so that they can be scrutinized by the public of how these public institutions are managing their affairs on behalf of the people of Dominica.”
PM Skerrit concluded, “So in respect to the Citizenship by Investment programme, you only report Government’s revenue where the Citizenship by Investment programme is concerned.”