1. That Government receive for urgent consideration and endorsement the subject Policy Paper on Dominica - Diaspora Relations, and commit to introduce enabling legislation and/or regulations to give effect to these recommendations at the earliest possible opportunity.
2. Short Term (2004 - 2005)
2.1. Government establish an Inter-ministerial Secretariat to be located in the Prime Minister's Office to be responsible for managing and promoting the issues related to Diaspora Affairs.
2.2. Government establish a Committee of persons drawn from the Diaspora, the local community and a representative from Overseas Missions to present applicable measures for action by Government.
2.3. That Government consider for immediate action all of the recommendations included in PART 3 to this submission.
2.4. That Government promote a national discussion at home and abroad on the Role of the Diaspora (including Returnees) in the National Development Agenda.
2.5. All embassies, High Commissions, consulates and honorary consuls be instructed to initiate immediately a Registry of Dominican nationals within their respective areas of jurisdiction with such appropriate optional information to be determined later. Also, overseas missions be required to maintain a Registry of Dominican Professionals, including consultants and technical, business and service competencies for reference by Government and agencies at home.
2.6. Government prepare for public discussion a series of brief background statements on current issues of concern to the Diaspora (and presumably to resident at home also), including but not limited to:
(a) Trade, Tourism and Investment promotion overseas;
(b) Immigration/Emigration, Skills requirements;
(c) An agenda for Health Services;
(d) Youth Unemployment and Crime;
(e) Volunteering and the Public Service
(f) Investment Opportunities at home.
(g) Rationalizing the role and function of Overseas Missions
2.7. As part of National Independence Week, 2005, Government convene a Conference of the Diaspora at which sessions relating to the above (Recommendation 2.6) will be held and appropriate officials will be invited to provide reports to the conference sessions on these subjects.
3. Medium Term, (2005 - 2008)
3.1 That government undertake, as a matter of urgency, the preparation of a credible and practical course for the national development effort which addresses:
(a) Reduction/elimination of foreign indebtedness;
(b) Increase in national income/employment through aggressive production, marketing and trade;
(c) Optimise the use of natural resources;
(d) Reduction of bureaucracy in the public sector and promotion of cooperation and linkages in the private sector;
(e) Considerations for the delivery of the best possible social services with particular attention to rural communities, the poor, the elderly and the young.
3.2. Promote Direct Diaspora Investments in those sectors and to those projects, under whatever incentives and preferences as can be justified. Alternatively, through the promotion of appropriate and attractive financial instruments (Bonds, Debentures, Trusts) suitably secured, offer the Diaspora a credible basis for confident investment at home.
3.3. Develop a clearly formulated policy on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and its place in the national development effort, including:
(a) Non-sensitive sectors (within free trade parameters);
(b) Land ownership constraints;
(c) Minimum capitalization;
(d) Employees and management regulations;
(e) Repatriation of profits;
(f) Share participation by nationals
3.4. An articulated agenda under which foreign missions and designated representatives in the Diaspora might promote foreign investment.
4. Long Term. Post 2008
4.1. Undertake a concerted program of defining Dominica by its unique features, history, folk and national heroes, myths and legends, culture and other attributes that together forment and strengthen the links between an ancestral home and its sons and daughters abroad.
4.2. Assist public and private efforts of exchanges between Dominicans and nationals abroad in student exchanges, educational tours, cultural and sports (including a program of accrediting children of the Diaspora to represent Dominica at international sporting and cultural meets)
. 4.3. With the aid of the Diaspora contacts in foreign news agencies and training centres, work towards establishing a professional Dominica Information Service (radio, television, magazines, audio/visual tools, documentaries) which chronicle and publicize the day-to-day story of Dominica for its nationals abroad.
4.4. Develop a program of coordination and liaison between Dominica and other regional governments pursuing similar efforts of empowering their overseas Diaspora to act (lobby) in concert overseas in matters of common interest.
5. Specific Recommendations from PART 3
The following recommendations are focused on specific subject areas and are set primarily in the context of the implementing agency.
(a) More general interaction of Consulates with the Diaspora population.
(b) Immediate attention be given to the establishment of equipment and systems to permanently eliminate these problems [of information and data availability.]
(c) Consulates provide a casual meeting room at the Consulate for its nationals - to share experiences, exchange general city information.
(d) Processes to take care of sudden urgent passport requests, for urgent business or death, for example, to be researched and appropriate procedures implemented at our consulates to cope with these.
(e) As a humanitarian service, Consulates provide information on how to seek legal aid/advice for recent immigrants facing Metro courts, for immigration matters, for adoptions, for tax purposes, for example.
(f) Commercial Missions seek the help of knowledgeable overseas nationals to strengthen their capability to play a more aggressive and productive commercial role.
(g) Consulates facilitate the return of Diaspora students and other trained personnel to the island.
5.2. Dual Citizenship and Absentee Balloting
(a) The rights of citizenship should be extended to two generations beyond the born Dominican parent.
(b) The process should be simplified, streamlined, and requirements confined to essentials, with minimum payment for registration.
(c) Voting rights should be automatic and no different from that of the born Dominican citizen; the 13-month residency requirement for voting should be abolished immediately.
(d) Absentee balloting should be instituted.
5.3. Community Treatment of Returnees
(a) The population as a whole be educated to the role of Returnees and overseas nationals in the economic development of the island.
(b) Immediate customer service training of workers who deal with the public.
5.4. Legal Requirements in the Repatriation Process
(a) A source-document be immediately made publicly available on the net or by mail, specifying in some detail (i) the items a returnee is entitled to return home with, (ii) the numbers of these items, (iii) what are the time implications, and (iv) how long after entry must items be kept before they can be sold if import taxes are not to be recouped.
(b) A three (3) year residence abroad period to qualify for repatriation treatment.
(c) The interviews regarding the return to Dominica to take place in the overseas nationals country of residence under the aegis of the Dominica Consulate in that country.
(d) The number of cars allowed for repatriation treatment be increased to two.
(e) For repatriation treatment, a vehicle can be sold after one (1) year in the island and if it is more than three (3) years old.
(f) With the appropriate checks and balances, the decision regarding the sale of a repatriated vehicle be pushed down to the office where the relevant information resides, and that would seem to be the Customs Dept.
5.5. Economic Development
(a) Government seek out knowledgeable overseas nationals for help in setting up progressive finance and trade institutions that would accelerate economic development.
(b) Government make increased use of Diaspora experts for assessment and advice on government and private sector projects.
(c) Government tap Diaspora expertise for advice and information on tourism, energy, Science & Technology, and other emerging sectors, to help identify and secure opportunities in these sectors.
(d) Government facilitate the establishment of Diaspora Friends of the Gardens groups in the US, Canada and UK, who would liaise with universities and established botanical institutions to resuscitate the Gardens. The same structure could be used for the Library and the Museum.
(e) Government approach our overseas nationals to prepare and implement a plan for the phased development of the energy sector, and its integration into the complementary development of other sectors.
5.6.Police and Judiciary
(a) Overseas nationals involved with the Crime Symposium, and others if necessary, be recruited for short, volunteer stints to review our Police procedures, make recommendations to modernize and increase the effectiveness of the Police force, and help implement these recommendations.
(b) Government recruit these Diaspora jurists on a short-term volunteer basis for help in modernizing our courts and laws to better cope with the 21st century legal environment.
(a) Government immediately recruit Diaspora experts to assess the problems, make recommendations and help implement programs for improvement.
(b) Overseas nationals be recruited to do short lecture stints on a volunteer basis in new and advanced methods and procedures for professionals and students at local training institutions.
(c) Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and similar initiatives be evaluated for their educational, social and economic utility; and implementation, as appropriate, be given priority.
(a) Government set up an expert committee to do a comprehensive review of the health problems of the island, make recommendations for their resolution, set up an apparatus to implement recommendations, and help supervise implementation.
(b) Recruiting of volunteer Diaspora specialists to do short lecture stints in advanced methods and procedures for physicians and para-medicals at the local hospitals.
(c) The Medical Dept also seek volunteer services of Diaspora MDs for short-term stints in fields where Dominican specialists are lacking.
(d) A program right here at home, to mobilize Ross University volunteers to help with the staff shortages in our medical facilities.
(e) Hospitals and consulates provide information about local health services available to Returnees and visiting overseas nationals, and how these can be accessed, and about metropolitan health insurance companies that pay for health coverage in Dominica for overseas nationals retiring in Dominica or visiting.
(a) Government encourage and facilitate Dominican bands and cultural troupes visiting North America, UK and the Caribbean to spread more cultural awareness of the island, enhance its image abroad, and earn foreign exchange for the island.
(a) The processing of charitable donations be streamlined with the creation of a government list of charitable organizations that qualify for exemptions from taxes and duties, and shipping documents include a letter from the donor indicating that the items are charitable donations, and a letter from the recipient indicating that the items are required.
(b) Once the process has been established and in place, the conditions need to be clarified and publicized for both donor and customs officials, as is the case for returnee household effects.
(c) Dominica Government seek to establish originating-country tax-exempt status for charitable donations from the US, Canada and the UK, as the US has done for Canada, Mexico and Israel.
(a) Government encourage and support the formation of a Returnee organization in the island - to facilitate the resettlement process.
(b) Consulates take some initiative in encouraging the organizations of the Dominican Diaspora to play a more active role in the metropolitan political process.
(c) Consulates take some initiative to facilitate the creation of umbrella Dominican/Caribbean Diaspora organizations in each Metropolitan country, to help leverage the political power and financial resources of the Caribbean community as a whole.
5.12. The Role of the Diaspora Volunteer
(a) The role of the Diaspora volunteer is to seed the process of transition from "contributions today" to "opportunities tomorrow" - including participation in bond and security offerings - not to undertake major projects in a volunteer capacity.
(b) As an adjunct, when development projects are open for contract, the granting party - government or private - should seek out qualified Diaspora consultants to participate in the project as a matter of priority.
Please view Tabular Summary of Diaspora Report Recommendations by Timing and Resource Requirements.