Dominica: Prime Minister of Dr Roosevelt Skerrit addressed the general public of the Commonwealth of Dominica on December 12, 2022. PM Skerrit took the platform as an opportunity to thank the supporters for believing in them for the next five years.
He stated that he was pleased that the preliminary reports of the several international observer teams and missions who observed the Elections have given a resounding nod of approval to the open and transparent manner in which these Elections were conducted and the overarching conclusion that the will of the people of Dominica was manifested and determined, fairly.
PM Roosevelt Skerrit stated that General Elections 2022 was called to trigger a National Reset. According to him, these are not just empty words or new catch phrase that sounds good when they say it. It is, in fact, quite to the contrary. Dominica has great potential and has created plans and policies that will build our resilience and spur greater economic growth and development for our country.
He added, “However, in order to realise our true potential, we need all Dominicans, despite what our political differences may be, to be working towards the development of Dominica and a better life for our people. It is an opportunity, therefore, for us to pause as a nation and a people and reflect seriously on what will be required to navigate us successfully through the maze of uncertainty that now envelopes the region and the world as a result of circumstances not of our making, but with which we are forced to grapple.”
He mentioned that the rising cost of living is a major issue for all. The price of food, raw materials and transportation has significantly increased regionally and internationally from 3 the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine, both issues that are beyond the control of the independent candidate. The government has taken action to cushion the impact as much as it has been able to. The reality is there is only so much that can be done, but the Dominican government will continue to do all within its power and the resources available to ease the burden on the people.
“I am forging ahead with the concept and ideal of a National Reset. Those of us who are committed to and desirous of bringing about meaningful change in this country must begin 2023 on the right footing. We must prepare ourselves for the short and medium-term challenges occasioned by climate change, global terror and rising food prices,” PM Roosevelt Skerrit asserted.
He added that the implications for sustaining social services and provision of adequate health care for special interest and vulnerable groups would be enormous. All this is why, in structuring my proposed government, he has decided to include all the elected Parliamentarians at levels ranging from Parliamentary Secretary, Minister of State, and Ministers of government. He wanted for all to share in and be a part of the national decision-making process so that each constituency returned to the Dominica Labour Party can and will have a voice at the table, both at the policy formulation stage and in the Parliament of this country.
Prime Minister Skerrit further mentioned that in this new and inclusive Dominica that the government is trying to build, he has attempted to reach out to and meet with known opposition members, but that has been met with varying degrees of success. The embrace of social partners shall, however, remain a top priority of the newly elected government so as to close the gaps and pursue the philosophical concept of creating a national construct where Dominicans of all political and ideological persuasions can sit and discuss the lone agenda issue, of “Dominica”.
“So this evening, I wish to share with you the intended make-up of the new government. Most glaring shall be my decision not to retain the vital Ministry of Finance and Economic Development. I have made known my intention not to serve out this term as Prime Minister, and therefore I have, in structuring this Cabinet of Ministers, begun to share the traditional load and weight of responsibility of the Prime Minister with some of my more senior members,” he was quoted saying during the address.
Furthermore, he mentioned that the Dominicans would see that he has retained ministerial responsibility for issues of Governance, and chief among these at this time is the matter of electoral modernisation. This undertaking, embarked upon several years ago by the DLP-led government, will be six followed through and implemented, in the spirit of cooperation and national collaboration, by mid-2023.
Later, he stated, “I shall make specific reference to the day-to-day management of that particular initiative. Structuring of this new Cabinet has also taken into account the need to forge new linkages, such as between Foreign Affairs, International Business and Trade. These shall all be part of a single portfolio as we believe they are complementary and can be better advanced from a single ministerial perspective and direction. I firmly believe that we need, in great earnest, to attract new and exciting business ventures to Dominica.”
He also mentioned that, likewise, he believes that Dominica needs to create not only the enabling environment to bring about new, high-paying jobs for the people but also to boost the production of local products for the local and export market. In this regard, Trade and Agriculture will be working closely together to formulate and maintain this desired nexus. Health, Wellness and Social Services shall be a single portfolio, and we shall bring together at the policy-making level bright and energetic Parliamentarians who shall work assiduously at maintaining and improving upon the stellar health services and systems and improved delivery of health care for our people. Culture, Youth, Sports, and Community Development are other intertwined areas that will fall under one portfolio, which will also highlight the key importance that my new government shall attach to Sports and its development, as well as the matter of Young Men in Crisis.
In addition to this, he stated that all could not just speak words to this demographic, but, as a government, they have to get on the ground and connect with young men in particular so as to seek out and address issues in a reasoned manner and reasonable time frame. Agriculture, Blue and Green Economy are again connected, and on this occasion, Fisheries shall stand out as an upgraded department of this ministry. Indeed, the government is fortunate to have Dominica’s resident expert on the subject in the midst as a Member of Parliament, and his skills shall be utilised in furtherance of the goal to explore and maximise benefits to be derived for Dominica through Blue Economy endeavours.
PM Roosevelt Skerrit added that the National Reset that’s unfolding would be forged with the building of confidence and trust among social partners. The Dominicans will see that the newly elected government has created a special ministry of Labour, Public Service Reform and Social Partnership to operationalise many of the concepts that were spoken about over the years, including the need to review and revise the terms and conditions of public officers, as well as improve the efficiency of the service they provide to the public.
According to Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, the new Cabinet of Ministers of the Commonwealth of Dominica and associated Parliamentary Secretaries will be as follows:
- Dr Roosevelt Skerrit – Prime Minister and Investment and Governance Minister.
- Dr Irving McIntyre – Finance, Economic Development, Climate Resilience & Social Security Minister.
- Dr Vince Henderson – Foreign Affairs, International Business, Trade & Energy Minister.
- Senator Rayburn Blackmoore – National Security and Legal Affairs Minister.
- Cassanni Laville – Health, Wellness and Social Services Minister.
- Melissa Poponne-Skerrit – Housing and Urban Development Minister.
- Roland Royer – Agriculture, Fisheries, Blue and Green Economy Minister.
- Denise Charles – Tourism Minister.
- Fidel Grant Public – Works, Public Utilities & Digital Economy Minister.
- Miriam Blanchard – Labour, Public Service Reform, Social Partnership, Entrepreneurship &Small Business Development Minister.
- Gretta Roberts – Culture, Youth, Sports and Community Development Minister.
- Cozier Frederick – Environment, Rural Modernisation, Kalinago Upliftment and Constituency Empowerment Minister.
- Octavia Alfred – Education, Human Resource Planning, Vocational Training & National Excellence Minister.
- Daren Pinard – State Minister in the Labour, Public Service Reform, Social Partnership Entrepreneurship & Small Business Development Ministry.
- Jullan Defoe – State Minister in the Agriculture, Fisheries, Blue and Green Economy Ministry.
- Senator Oscar George – State Minister in the Culture, Youth, Sports and Community Development Ministry.
- Chekira Lockhart- Hypolite – State Minister in the Public Works, Public Utilities and Digital Economy Ministry.
- Dr Cassandra Williams – State Minister in the Health, Wellness and Social Services Ministry.
- Fenella Wenham – Parliamentary Secretary in the Education, Human Resource Planning, Vocational Training & National Excellence Ministry.
- Darron Lloyd – Parliamentary Secretary in the Environment, Rural Modernisation, Kalinago Upliftment & Constituency Empowerment Ministry.
- LaKeyia Joseph – Parliamentary Secretary in the Agriculture, Fisheries, Blue & Green Economy Ministry.
- Senator Kent Edwards – Parliamentary Secretary in the Health, Wellness & Social Services Ministry.
Prime Minister Skerrit, furthermore, added that at the Parliamentary first sitting, he would nominate Joseph Issac to serve as the Speaker in the House of Assembly for the second time as well as Senator Phillip Rolle will also be nominated as Deputy Speaker. The fifth Senator of Government in the Parliament of Dominica shall be Austelle Lockhart.
Additionally, he mentioned that he will, as Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers, invite former Senior Minister Reginald Austrie to sit in on and serve as Special Advisor to the Cabinet of Ministers on Public Affairs and Community Relations. He furthermore outlined that he believes that with so many new faces in the government, the DLP-led government will need someone who can keep members grounded in the wisdom of remaining fully connected at the constituency and community levels and also to provide with wisdom.
In the same regard, he invited former Government Minister Dr Kenneth Darroux to serve as Special Envoy in the Office of the Prime Minister. He will attend meetings of the Cabinet on the invitation. Among other responsibilities, he will have 14 specific responsibilities for Electoral Modernization. Dr Darroux will interact with the many sectoral interests that will be engaged and consulted on this very important issue as we ensure that Dominica has a modernised, efficient electoral system.
Additionally, he also invited former Minister of Government Ian Douglas to serve as Dominica’s Ambassador to the Republic of Cuba. Cuba continues to be a very close and meaningful ally to Dominica along its pathway to development. In many respects, Cuba is the first country of reference in times of need. Douglas shall be entrusted and supported in strengthening relations with this cherished friendly state and ally of the Commonwealth of Dominica.
Former Minister of Government and Member of Parliament Roslyn Paul has been a Cultural Icon in her own right. He has asked Paul to serve as a Consultant to the Cabinet, and in particular to the new Minister in the Ministry of Culture, to advise on the creation of community-based, tourism-focused cultural enterprises. There is more to Dominica than just Dominica’s natural rivers, waterfalls and the like.
Communities of the north, northeast and Kalinago districts will be specifically targeted for this program, and Paul shall be provided with the necessary support to enable the execution of her assignment. On this occasion, as well, he announced the intended appointment of the current Permanent Secretary in the Office of Prime Minister, Missi Henderson, to the long-vacant position of High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, with additional responsibility for Diplomacy, Trade, Investment and Diaspora Relations, in several neighbouring European countries.
Former Secretary to the Cabinet Steve Ferrol shall serve as Organization of American States (OAS) Parliamentary Secretary of Dominica and as Ambassador to the United States of America. Dr Philbert Aaron – will be the Permanent Representative to the United Nations, and Avondale Paul will replace Ambassador Hubert Charles at our Embassy in the United Arab Emirates.
He furthermore outlined that the government will be focused on becoming Dynamic Dominica, which this country is capable of being. This new government will bring a fresh and purposeful approach to problem-solving. The government will remain in touch with the people while maintaining healthy relations with nations far and near. Dominica will have a presence in major international capitals, and it shall have a voice and strong representation across the region.
Moreover, he said that the newly elected government should continue to pursue healthier relations with social partners in Dominica. A new Ministry, under Miriam Blanchard, has been created for this.
“I have committed to more frequent engagement with trade unions, the private sector, opposition representatives, the church and other arms of civil and social society. We shall be a government for all and of all,” he added.
Furthermore, he mentioned, “We shall navigate raging seas and return peace, progress and prosperity to a nation that has had its fair share of natural, global, and man-made disasters. I look forward to this new term with eager anticipation, and he invited each and every one of you to tune in tomorrow for the swearing-in of your new Cabinet of ministers.”