After weathering Storm Erika in 2015, and Hurricane Maria in 2017, the small island nation of Dominica with a population just over 70,000 was in an incredibly difficult position by the time that the global pandemic took hold. Consequently, the country’s post-Covid-19 response forms one part of an economic recovery that has been nearly a decade in the making.
Dominica’s reconstruction has been aided by the country’s Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Programme, wherein foreign investors receive citizenship in exchange for an investment in the country. By encouraging foreign direct investment (FDI) from around the globe, the Dominican government’s CBI unit (DCBIU) has helped attract international revenue from individuals in exchange for citizenship. Investors can enjoy the benefits of residing in a beautiful and exotic country, while bearing witness to the tangible impact their funding has on the ongoing disaster relief, house building, and sustainable development projects, among other benefits.
As an internationally renowned CBI programme (consistently ranking number one out of all international CBI schemes), none of this would be possible without the integral role of Authorised Agents. By supporting and enabling citizenship applications, agents are committed to helping investors and governments achieve their goals. At the same time, they safeguard against illegitimate exploitation of the scheme, as well as promoting and marketing the CBI programme abroad, and much more.
Here, we explain the role of Authorised Agents in Dominica’s CBI Programme in more detail, and how their role in enabling FDI has helped transform the lives of Dominicans throughout a tumultuous period for the country.
How Authorised Agents help raise FDI
What are Authorised Agents?
Authorised Agents are licensed by a country’s citizenship by investment unit (CBIU) to perform citizenship services on behalf of applicants for the investment programme, as well as market it internationally. All applications must be processed through agents with such authorisation.
To qualify as an Authorised Agent for Dominica’s CBI Programme, you must reside in the country and therefore be subject to its jurisdiction. In order to receive an Authorised Agent’s licence, applicants must also undergo vetting by the CBIU at a cost of US$7,500 — the same fee for a CBI applicant.
What do Authorised Agents do?
The roles of the Authorised Agent are diverse and numerous. Primarily, their services include:
● Liaising with CBIUs in relation to applications.
● Receiving and implementing policies and guidance issued by the government and CBIU.
● Providing guidance and advice for applicants to complete forms and documentary requirements, including translation, certification, and legalisation.
● Performing know-your-client (KYC) checks on all applicants and submitting these to the CBIU alongside the application.
● Ensuring accurate dissemination of information on the CBI programme.
● Supporting and monitoring sub-agents and promoters.
● Taking responsibility for all promotions, advertisements and publications relating to CBI.
All of Dominica’s CBI revenue is therefore processed through Authorised Agents. In 2017, in order to bolster the presence of Authorised Agents in Dominica, the CBIU created an incentive scheme for successful applications, made under the Economic Diversification Fund (EDF) option of the CBI Programme. This entails a 10% payment to the authorised agency once an applicant has successfully made their specified FDI into the country.
It is mandatory for Dominica’s CBIU that a full list of agents and service providers are published online through the CBIU’s official website, as this ensures transparency about the legitimacy of authorised firms. This is in part due to unauthorised firms promoting clandestine passport schemes, thereby deceiving and defrauding investors — as was the case in the South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu.
The impact of Citizenship by Investment
So, now we’ve established that Authorised Agents play a huge role in facilitating Dominica’s CBI Programme, let’s look at exactly how this has impacted the lives of Dominicans in recent times.
On 28th September 2017, Dominica was struck by the devastating Hurricane Maria — the worst storm to hit in its history, destroying nearly 90% of infrastructure and crushing its economy. Yet the country has since displayed a steadfast determination to bounce back from the disaster, both through government-backed initiatives and the unmistakable resilience of its people. The result has been a massive and ambitious rebuilding project, marked by the watchwords on everyone’s lips: hurricane-proof.
Prime Minister Roosevelt Skeritt made CBI revenue a core part of Dominica’s fiscal strategy, turning the disaster relief programme into a springboard for restoring and renovating the nation’s economy and infrastructure. In December 2021, the IMF reported that “so far, the authorities have used the majority of CBI revenue to invest in infrastructure resilient to natural disasters”.
The impact of this funding can be seen in the repairs of 15 sections of damaged roads and 19 bridges, as well as contributing to the building of over 1,000 hurricane-resilient homes, with an additional 5,000 also in sight. CBI also helped fund the rebuilding of at least 15 schools that suffered damage in the catastrophe.
Even though the Covid-19 pandemic served to hamper the nation’s recovery, in 2022 the overall growth levels inspire some cautious optimism. The IMF additionally reported in December 2021 that “GDP is projected to reach pre-pandemic levels by 2023, averaging 5% growth per year through 2022-26”. A large part of this recovery is based on tourism, but not exclusively — these projections are expected to be significantly influenced by CBI revenue.
In the wake of the hurricane, Dominica’s government also pledged that the economic recovery would be driven by Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), such as ending poverty, improving nutrition and ensuring long-term consumption and production patterns. As it stands, the government’s SDG initiatives are slated for completion by 2030 at the latest. This agenda was already proposed by the UN, but hastened by the 2017 disaster, leading to the Climate Resilience and Recovery Plan (CCRP).
Among the CCRP’s various projects that have benefited from the country’s CBI programme is the green revitalisation of the tourist sector — building new environmentally-sensitive hotels and resorts, which saw 1,000 jobs created, with a further 900 anticipated once the projects are complete. Unemployment has also been targeted through investments in agriculture and fishing. The large public investments, backed by FDI revenue, have signalled an improvement of Dominica’s debt situation.
Another notable sustainable development programme is the construction of a geothermal power plant that boosts the domestic level of renewable energy sources, thereby reducing the dependence on imported fuel. As Globe News Wire reports, this has not only been made possible through Dominica’s CBI Programme, but also through partnering with donors such as “the World Bank, the Caribbean Development Bank, Small Island Developing States, SIDS Dock and the Clinton Foundation”.
Alongside the sustainable development programme, Dominica’s government has used CBI funds to create disaster-proof housing projects. After Storm Erika in 2015 displaced many families, and Hurricane Maria laid waste to 23,000 homes in 2017, FDI has contributed to the creation of seven new housing complexes, themselves containing 130 housing units, commencing in 2022.
This ’Housing Revolution’, as it was named by the Skerritt administration in 2015, also entails the building of 340 residential units, a commercial centre and farmer’s market. Housing projects across the East and West Coast, as well as the Rouseau City region, have additionally been implemented over the last few years. The plan aims to build housing unit buildings in each of ten designated locations, of which many are now complete.
For more detail on the services and operations of Authorised Agents, visit our Agents Zone.BACK TO NEWS FEED