Roosevelt Skerrit, the Prime Minister of Dominica, graced the stage at the Diaspora Forum 2023, on the 2nd of November and delineated his thoughts on the economic and cultural well-being of the nation and its people.
During the event, multiple speakers took to the stage and spoke on the fact that Dominica is a viable investment option, not just for resident citizens of Dominica, but also for international citizens who call Dominica their country of origin.
The dialogue also focused on Dominica’s economy which is believed to be a stable proposition, often insulated from the fluctuations seen in the markets of developed nations and international markets in general.
Dominica’s infrastructure drive
Prime Minister Skerrit made it a point to focus on the infrastructural development that Dominica has seen in the recent past, while acknowledging the fact that the nation continues to improve upon past achievements.
According to him, the effort that the nation and its people have put into bolstering the housing sector is unparalleled in the region. He also spoke highly of the Citizenship by Investment programme, the funds from which helps the nation provide safe, well-built, high-quality homes to its citizens.
“The success we have had in providing safe homes to the citizens simply cannot be questioned” he stated.
PM Skerrit went on to speak about the ever-improving road network of the nation, which happens to be one of the best that the Caribbean has to offer. A mark of how high these projects are on the government’s list of agendas, is in the fact that the nation is working on a $127 million East Coast Road Project.
The nation is also pursuing large scale projects of various kinds which include the hospitality sector, agriculture and tourism. The country is also highly invested in the Cable Car Project which will connect the Roseau Valley to the boiling lake.
In a statement regarding the same, he said the following, “A cable car in the Roseau Valley to take you up to the boiling lake is under construction, and we are also making strides towards constructing our geothermal plant, which will help reduce the energy cost to consumers in Dominica”
He also spoke of the International Airport which is under construction, explaining that the government of Dominica aims to make sure people can travel to the nation directly from UK and North America.
Roseau: A new and improved capital city
PM Skerrit spoke about the enhancements which are to be made to the nation’s capital, Roseau. According to his statement, the project will be a collaborative effort which will see Dominica partner up with Saudi Arabia.
In his speech, he stated, “The minister of finance in the finance secretary will be part of the delegation to Saudi Arabia to conclude the negotiations on this loan to reconstruct and enhance the city of Roseau – PM Roosevelt Skerrit.”
The project will see Dominica gaining access to a significant amount of capital from Saudi Arabia in the form of a loan. This amount will go towards reconstructing the city completely, including the installation of a new drainage system.
The significance of Dominica’s Diaspora
The Prime Minister was quick to acknowledge the importance of people living abroad, who owe their heritage to Dominica. He shrugged off the notion some hold of considering such people outsiders or second-class citizens.
In PM Skerrits’s opinion, Dominica’s diaspora has as much of a claim on the nation as any citizen that calls himself a resident of Dominica. He also highlighted the fact that the investments, which such individuals make in Dominica, don’t just act as a boost to the nation but also bear fruit for the investor as well.
He invoked a profound sense of belonging in the people who came to hear him speak, drawing them closer to their roots and the pride associated with belonging to Dominica.
He made it a point to welcome the Diaspora of Dominica, to enjoy their nation and bring not just investment into it, but also share their skills and insights with their brethren. In this manner, PM Skerrit believes they can influence the growth and development of Dominica in quite a significant manner.
Dominica’s Economic Stability
Prime Minister Skerrit didn’t shy away from pointing out that Dominica has been subjected to more than its usual share of obstacles in the past few years. Not only did the nation have to brave the elements, facing storms and generally inclement weather, during the hurricane season, it also had to deal with the scourge that was Covid-19.
He stated the following on the matter, “We also extended support to the private sector – small, medium and large business owners to meet their salary commitments, keep staff employed and sustain and expand their businesses.”
Regardless of the issues the nation has had to face in recent times, the government has maintained the aim of placing the well being of its citizens on top of its list of priorities.
Not only did the government maintain the jobs of all its employees during the Covid-19 pandemic, it has recently increased the salaries of roughly 3000 public servants, doing its part in providing gainful employment to its citizens in a very direct manner.
Following a reclassification exercise, most public servants walked away with a 13% increment to their salaries.
“We also extended support to the private sector – small, medium and large business owners to meet their salary commitments, keep staff employed and sustain and expand their businesses” he stated.
By these means, he conveyed the governments approach to the job market in the nation, while giving his people a measure of assurance and safety in the knowledge that their government has their back.