By Caribbean News Global contributor
ROSEAU, Dominica – Prime minister of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit has announced new adjustments to ensure beneficiaries receive assistance to loan facilities at the Agricultural Industrial Development (AID) Bank; while focussing on implementing multiple infrastructure projects up to $100 million.
Interest rate adjustment
“Government had taken the extraordinary step after Maria to make loan financing available at the AID Bank, to our farmers, hoteliers and the manufacturing sector at attractive rates of two percent, with a moratorium on payments of 6-12 months. Mindful of the extraordinary circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic the government is providing further relief to beneficiaries of that special loan facility,” said prime minister Skerrit.
The new adjustments will ensure that the beneficiaries can continue operations without the added obstacle of loan payments.
“This will include no payment on principal for a year and on interest payment for six months. This deferment of payment will allow borrowers in the tourism sector, the manufacturers and farmers to use whatever cash they receive during the next six months, to meet salary payments and continue their operations—without the added burden of loan repayments,” prime minister Skerrit stated.
Employers should be commended
“At the national level, a major concern during this pandemic is the loss of livelihoods and income among workers. For individual households, it is the payment of mortgages and basic living expenses. The DAIC has advised that its members have retained their pre-COVID 19 pandemic staff. The government has also spoken directly with the top largest private-sector employers. I am advised that 88 percent of these employers have held on to their full complement of staff while the other 12 percent have released 15 percent (or approximately 90 persons).
“These employers should be commended highly for their stellar contribution to the wellbeing of their employees and families. They have agreed to hold on and partner with the government to ensure the social stability of the country in these very difficult and uncertain times,” the prime minister said.
$100 million in infrastructure projects
Prime minister Skerrit affirmed that the government has placed priority on reviving the local economy with a focus on implementing multiple infrastructure projects.
“We will also be implementing multiple infrastructure projects with expenditures of up to 100 million dollars. Total additional investments in construction are expected to amount to at least $296.8 million. We are excited that these projects will be felt in every corner of this country. For example, there will be at least one road project in each constituency. Local contractors will be engaged which will ensure job creation and the circulation of money in the community while contributing to the improvement of the aesthetics of our communities. The government will also pay small contractors and merchants with amounts owed of $100,000 and less in the coming days, utilizing the resources approved by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) under the Rapid Credit Facility (RCF),” prime minister Skerrit said.
In April, the executive board of the IMF approved disbursements to Dominica, 89.4 percent of quota for Dominica (SDR 10.3 million or US$14 million). These countries are small states that are very vulnerable to shocks, including large natural disasters, with Dominica in particular still recovering from the devastation of hurricane Maria in 2017.
Prime minister Skerrit further explained that “the intention is that small contractors will be in a position to resume work on small projects and complete these works in the coming weeks and months, mindful of the approaching hurricane season. The government will also continue its aggressive housing programme and accelerate it where possible.”
Stimulate the economy
The prime minister advised that plans and policies will be in place to stimulate other sectors of the economy, especially in the construction sector, “to positively impact employment” added, “through construction, several related businesses like hardware stores, transportation services, professional services … will grow, thus providing companies an incentive to keep their current workforce and create new opportunities. We have also launched a registration drive for contractors and artisans,” he noted.
The form can be completed on the government website www.dominica.gov.dm
“For many, their disposable incomes will rise and lead to higher expenditures. Indeed, this strategy is tried and tested. Following the devastation of hurricane Maria, the government was able to successfully jump-start the economy through the commencement of numerous large infrastructure projects” prime minister Skerrit said.