In recent years, the small island nation of Dominica has had its fair share of trials and tribulations. From Storm Erika in 2015, Hurricane Maria in 2017 and the global impact of the Covid-19 pandemic from 2020, the strains on the country’s economy and social fabric have been all-too-real. Yet time and again, the country has proved itself to be resilient. We don’t want to jump the gun with the phrase “bounce-back”, but there are positive signs for sustainable growth ahead.
Part of Dominica’s recovery can be attributed to the role of foreign direct investment (FDI), particularly through its Citizenship-by-Investment (CBI) programme. Capital investors can put in a fixed fee to acquire citizenship, which is commonly funnelled into the Economic Diversification Fund (EDF). What exactly does this involve? Here we explain the finer points of the initiative, and how it has helped shape the Caribbean nation.
The Dominican Government’s EDF supports social and economic policies in order to boost development across the nation. The CBI programme was key in establishing this initiative, offering Dominican economic citizenship to investors who make a financial contribution to the fund.
While the EDF covers both private and public investments, a great deal of the funds generated are targeted at improving infrastructure, and has been instrumental in modernising industries, for instance, Dominica’s emerging sustainable tourism sector.
To acquire Caribbean citizenship through investing in the EDF, applicants must contribute an amount according to the following rules, which vary with the number of dependents in the application.
● One applicant: a non-refundable contribution of $100,000.
● An applicant plus spouse: a non-refundable contribution of $150,000.
● An applicant with three dependents: a non-refundable contribution of $175,000.
● Additional dependents (excluding spouses and siblings aged between 18-25): a non-refundable payment of $25,000 for each dependent.
Alongside the contribution, also called the EDF grant, investors must go through the procedure of finding a government-approved agent to assist them with their application. With the agent’s help, individuals must prepare and submit vital documents such as a pre-contract sale for buying real estate.
There are two stages of background check to go through: an initial check, and then an in-depth review. Finally, once the application is approved, there will be an order for a grant payment towards the EDF.
In 2021, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit emphasised how crucial CBI has been for his administration to finance an economically diverse country and make the economy viable in the wake of a rocky few years. So far, the initiative has led to Dominica’s CBI programme receiving numerous accolades. Its tangible outcomes include the creation of the development programmes, such as the Roseau Enhancement Project — an urban modernisation of the titular city, restoring roads, bridges and other infrastructure.
The EDF has also financed renovations of the Douglas Charles International Airport, and has led to the recent creation of a new geothermal power plant, with the ambition to radically transform the energy supply around the country. Rather than increasing domestic taxes or government borrowing to build homes, it has allowed the government to spearhead a “Housing Revolution” funded solely by investment capital.
Notable public sector projects that have been delivered through EDF investments include local hospital renovations, the construction of new schools and the building of a national sports stadium. In the private sector, the EDF has also financed advances for Dominica’s information technology and agricultural sectors, among others.