In his recent speech, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit addressed the UK's decision to suspend visa-free access for Dominica and several other countries. Despite challenges like global health issues and climate change, Skerrit highlighted Dominica's strong economic growth and investments in key sectors. He also expressed pride in hosting international events and the achievements of local sports stars. The speech underscored Dominica's commitment to international cooperation and robust due diligence in its Citizenship by Investment (CBI) program. This article provides a comprehensive summary of PM Skerrit's speech, showcasing Dominica's determination to rebound from setbacks and maintain its position as a progressive and resilient nation.
Dominica's Resilience and Progress:
PM Skerrit commenced the speech by acknowledging Dominica's place among proud nations and its dedication to uplifting its citizens from poverty and empowering them. Despite facing setbacks from global health challenges and climate change, Dominica's economy remains one of the strongest in the sub-region. The Gross Domestic Product has returned to pre-pandemic levels, and the nation is experiencing growth with fresh investments in tourism, alternative energy, small manufacturing, agriculture, and fisheries. Dominica is increasingly seen as a progressive and safe destination, as exemplified by its successful hosting of an international cricket match and the emergence of local sports star Alick Athanaze.
International Engagements and Assistance:
PM Skerrit reported on Dominica's participation in the EU-CELAC Summit in Brussels, where leaders discussed critical issues like food security, climate change, sustainable development, and the Haitian crisis. The European Union has pledged substantial financial assistance to the Caribbean and Latin America, including Dominica, for climate change and sustainable development initiatives, particularly clean energy projects.
Strengthening Regional Integration:
As the recently appointed chair of CARICOM, PM Skerrit outlined an ambitious agenda to deepen regional integration. By March next year, all Dominicans will enjoy free movement among CARICOM member nations, strengthening ties within the Caribbean community and providing increased opportunities for its people.
Addressing UK Visa Waiver Suspension:
PM Skerrit reassured citizens that the UK's visa waiver suspension does not signify a deterioration in bilateral relations. The decision is linked to concerns about Dominica's CBI program, prompting the country to take proactive measures to address international concerns and enhance due diligence processes. Dominica's commitment to cooperation with international stakeholders is evident through the implementation of US-proposed CBI Principles, including mandatory interviews for applicants 16 years and older.
Promoting Regional Development and Security:
PM Skerrit emphasized Dominica's use of CBI program funds to address climate change impacts, boost self-reliance, and empower local communities. The nation's extensive due diligence process mitigates risks and ensures the program's integrity. Dominica welcomes a comprehensive review of its CBI program by a European-based entity, demonstrating its commitment to meeting international standards.
Continued Engagement and Opportunities:
Despite the visa changes, PM Skerrit stated that Dominicans are still welcome in the UK. The British government will facilitate visa applications through online channels and set up an office in Dominica. He reiterated Dominica's commitment to engaging the UK, the European Union, and the United States to address concerns and promote greater fairness in the global economic space.
Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit's speech in response to the UK visa waiver suspension demonstrates Dominica's resilience and progress in the face of challenges. The nation's strong economic growth, proactive approach to addressing international concerns about the CBI program, and commitment to cooperation underscore its determination to protect and promote the interests of its people. Dominica remains engaged in international fora, advocating for global issues like climate change and investing in alternative energy. As the nation looks to the future, its focus on continued development and integration within the Caribbean region reaffirms Dominica's position as a dynamic and forward-thinking nation.