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OPINION: What did the Governor of the ECCB ACTUALLY say about the CBI in Dominica?

by: - January 13, 2017
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13th January 2017
Anthony W Astaphan,SC

The Governor said

“We believe that this is extremely important for people to know how much is collected, how it is spent,” he said at a media event on Wednesday. “So we welcome the efforts of the government to establish in the last budget specifically how much is coming from CBI and what it is being spent on. We think that’s important.”

Antoine continued, “We suggested a template that can be used to publish this information on a regular basis so anybody here, home or abroad can see this information and understand what is happening with the program.”

He pointed out that “none of us” knows how long the CBI will last.

“We hope it will last for a long time, but we really don’t know,” Antoine remarked. “Right now Dominica is doing well on it in terms of collections, but who knows the future?”

He went out to say, many of the countries in the OECS have such programs and so he advised governments to be prudent by not using the money for recurrent expenditure.

“Don’t use it to pay wages and salaries; don’t use it to pay the light bill…because when you do that, if the funds stop you’re in trouble,” he advised. “So what should you use it for? To pay down domestic arrears. If you owe local suppliers of goods and services to government, local businesses, and so use money to pay them, if you have foreign debts, pay them on that.”

He also advised that CBI funds should be used to build physical infrastructure.

“Clearly in Dominica, post Erika, there is need for roads and bridges, we also know that the government is going to use some for geothermal development, we believe that those are good uses of CBI,” he stated.”

The words in red and underlined show that far from criticizing Dominica’s CBI and transparency, the Governor was actually complimenting the Government of the Dominica. The Governor is right!!

As I have written before, I am aware that a few days or weeks ago, Lennox Linton met with the Financial Secretary of Dominica to discuss the CBI. Linton is the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee of the Parliament with the right to ask questions of Government’s revenues and expenditure. He has met with the former Director of Audit one on one, and with the Director of Audit together with the Financial Secretary. He can also ask question s on the XCBI as a Member of Parliament.

Also, at every Budget Debate the Prime Minister gives a detailed report of the citizenship programs including the funds raised and expended. (See the publication of the excerpts of the 2016/2017 published by Link-News Magazine Team in Dominica, page 35 and 36). The Budget Speech and this information were broadcast live. There is no question therefore that the Governor was correct when he complimented the Government for indicating specifically how much is coming from CBI and what it is being spent on in the last Budget.

Further, the names of persons granted citizenship are published in the Official Gazette. This stopped for a period when control moved from one ministry to the next. But this omission has been remedied retrospectively, and publication now continues under the CBI Unit. The Head of the CBI Unit, Ambassador Nanton, has said the intention is to ensure that all names of persons granted citizenship under the CBI program are published.

I therefore find it extraordinary that Lennox Linton and his supporters are now doing a Devil’s dance with the Governor’s statements. But bit is clear the Governor said nothing to support the lies and misrepresentations of Linton on 60 Minutes or elsewhere, and certainly made no statement that Dpominica’s CBI lacked, or lacks, transparency.

13th January 2017

Anthony W Astaphan,SC

Erika Magazine budget CBI