The Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) government has signalled its intention to use more of the monies from the programme of selling passports that ended up in a Transformation Fund to further develop the country.
Speaking at a post-Cabinet Press Briefing, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Labour, Peter David, told reporters that the intention of government is to allow monies from the passport-selling scheme known as Citizenship By Investment (CBI) to impact more on people’s lives in communities.
Minister David said government is currently reviewing the effectiveness of the fund so that in the upcoming five years more and more areas can be targeted for positive impact.
He pointed specifically at Youth Empowerment Programmes and other Skilled Programmes that are aimed at empowering young people especially in skills training.
He said the plan is to focus on action plan for collaboration with the Ministry of Education to focus on training young people in particular skills.
“… I remember speaking to the Indian Minister of Health… we’ve spoke to the Moroccans, we’ve spoken to several persons, the United States Ambassador, we tell all of them that while we welcome all of the scholarships that we’ve been receiving and we need more scholarships, we need to look at a new orientation towards skills training – short term, one year course, six month course and we believe that the Transformation Fund is another area that can help us in that regard because it will really be transformative for our young people and for the country,” he remarked.
According to Minister David, the establishing of small businesses will be one of the areas the Transformation Fund will be targeting as a means of promoting entrepreneurship in the country.
He told reporters: “I have said time and time again that we have to teach our young people that they not only need to go out and find the job but they need to go create jobs but we can’t say that to them unless we create an environment where they can establish their own business.
“So, the CBI programme as … I believe can be transformative in its impact that we are going to use it to help develop small businesses. We know that all of the banks are quite rigorous in their lending procedures and young people who have no history of business are finding it difficult to establish businesses…
“We as government, we have to find a way to ensure that young people get resources. Of course, I do believe that we should monitor the businesses. There is going to be some level of loss, so we have to accept that but I think again, the Transformation Fund of the CBI Programme is a good place to do it and the government is currently reviewing the fund to ensure that more resources are placed in small business development,” he said.
Minister David also identified Community Health as another area that will be targeted under the fund by the Mitchell-led administration.
He stressed that over the years the CBI Programme has been doing quite well financially but with government committed to making a greater effort to have it serve the wider community, a consultant will be engaged to help tighten its operation.
The Mitchell government and others in the region involved in passport selling are under pressure to turn to Enhanced Due Intelligence gathering to tighten the programme in order to keep out undesirable elements.
A few reports have surfaced about unsavoury characters obtaining passports from islands such as Dominica and St. Kitts.