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I believe in Dominica

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit
      • Address by Prime Minister of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit, November 6, 2022

By Roosevelt Skerrit

I greet you this evening, as your humble servant of 22 years. I was very moved by your positive responses to my Independence Day Address and the resolve of many, to play their part in helping your government and our country, realize the goals we have set ourselves, over the next decade.

On November 3, I highlighted the impact of climate change as one of the main challenges confronting small states like Dominica. A problem created elsewhere but which has dramatic impact on our economy, state finances and way of life.

We witnessed yet another instance of the impact of climate change on our country affecting the East of Dominica. I stand in solidarity with my sisters and brothers in the East.

The government mobilized heavy equipment to assist with the clearing of the roads and drains and to provide general support to the residents.

We shall spare no effort and resources to provide the necessary support. I have directed that all resources required, shall be assigned to the East to provide relief.

We shall continue to pray for the safety of all.

I believe in Dominica! I have faith in the capacity of our people, to rise above the occasional challenge, to persevere in the face of adversity and to make do, with what we have, in times of great difficulty.

In my address to the country last Thursday, I set forth clearly what would be expected of you the residents; you, the investors; you, Dominicans living abroad, and also of you, friends of Dominica, committed to playing a meaningful role in our development.

Our vision for Dominica is clear. This is fully set out in our Dynamic Dominica Manifesto, and we have been delivering on it, despite the unfavorable global climate.

The additional measures that I outlined on Thursday will help cushion the impact of the rising oil and fuel prices on the world market on our people, and will help Dominica keep moving forward and upward to a brighter future. Dominicans have proven time and again, that we are capable of bouncing back from the most nerve-wracking and tempestuous of circumstances.

We have broken the back of the COVID-19 pandemic here in Dominica. We have rebounded from some of the most adverse and ferocious weather conditions of this century. We managed to stay afloat, in a global food and petroleum products crisis, that has left many an economy, in a moribund state.

Social media can be bad, but it can also be good. It enables us to see firsthand what is happening in the world. We have all seen the impact of COVID-19 on other countries and the combined impact of COVID and the war in Ukraine, on the cost and availability of food, goods and fuel prices. Its portrayal of real-life experiences across the globe, has served to sensitise Dominicans to the very difficult conditions that we, your government, have had to navigate in the last three years.

Yes, fuel prices in Dominica are high … but in which non-oil-producing country aren’t they high? Yes, food prices in Dominica have risen, but where in the world have they not been rising?

We have had to play the hand that nature, fate and man’s inhumanity to man, have dealt us. We have been riding the tide, in an ocean that’s full of turmoil. We tune in to international news each day and the outlook for several countries is becoming grim.

Here in Dominica, we have begun the fight back. We have been knocked to the ground repeatedly, but we are back on our feet. We have dusted ourselves off and we are on the move again. We have a story in Dominica, we can all be proud of.

You do not have to be economist to observe and understand that the government’s revenues have been rocked in recent years by the impact of Erika and Maria, by the COVID pandemic, and now from global food and fuel supply shortages, occasioned by the war in Ukraine.

Revenues were down from every sector. Yet, government expenditures remained relatively high, because we continued to meet the needs of our people. We took action to keep you safe during COVID, and we prevented people from descending into abject poverty, by keeping them employed.

Yes, these challenges would have resulted in delayed payments to some of our creditors, but demands on the treasury over the past two years, especially from the health sector, were unprecedented. We had to act to save lives. We had to keep persons employed and their families secure. We had to provide support to persons especially in the tourism sector who lost their jobs. We were able to wrestle covid to the ground. And yes, we are now in recovery mode as a result of wise decision-making.

I am happy to report that we are addressing the issue of late payments to creditors, and several accounts now show a zero balance.

This government, my friends, took deliberate steps to maintain social services. We insisted that families should not go without the necessities of life, even though revenues were declining drastically.

We held steadfast to our commitments to the elderly. They were at risk and we ensured that their needs were met during that period of grave uncertainty. These things we did, and I think Dominica is this evening the better for it, because we remained glued to a philosophy of leaving no one behind.

Fellow Dominicans, residents and friends, attainment of the goals we have set ourselves calls for hard work and dedication by our workforce. It will call for confidence and decisive action of investors. It will call for policies that will inspire public officers and motivate them to give of their best in the implementation and administration of such programs.

I am also aware, that success of the policies I have outlined, and the achievement of Dynamic Dominica requires inspired and inspiring leadership. It requires ministers of government, leading from the front. It requires energy and commitment. It requires constant regeneration and rejuvenation.

The Dominica Labour Party has not shirked from making changes that enables it to remain dynamic, relevant and inspiring. In the last general elections, we introduced to you a new slate of candidates that included 11 new, young and energetic faces. The challenges that they have faced have not been for the faint hearted. They would have come into office at one of the most difficult times in our history.

What we had hoped to achieve has been in many ways set off course by the COVID pandemic.

We are at a crucial stage of national development, and we have to ensure that we have The Right Team For These Times! The road ahead will be challenging. It will be difficult. We believe that the Dominica Labour Party must look across the country and secure the perfect skill set for these unchartered waters.

Accordingly, there will be some changes to our parliamentary team. We have discussed these changes among ourselves, and the time is coming, very shortly, when they shall be revealed to the country.

Labour is not about discarding anyone. The task ahead is tremendous. We will need all hands on deck to give ourselves a reasonable chance at success. All current hands will be redeployed to assist in the navigation of our national ship to safe harbour.

But ever so often, as a people, we need to pull off the road and undertake needed assessment, refocusing and recalibration. How can we do better? In what areas are we succeeding? In what areas are we falling short? These are questions I believe a mature, experienced governing party needs to ask itself and respond to, ever so often.

I believe that the reopening of our country and our economy – post-COVID, is the best time for us as a country and indeed, as a government, to stop for a national reset. In the game of basketball, it’s called a time-out. We cannot wish the COVID-19 pandemic away. We cannot act as if this country and its economy were not afflicted by the ravages of this global setback. Every country in the world has had in the last two years to go back to the drawing board. Dominica is no different.

This current Dominica Labour Party administration was elected in 2019 with a particular mandate. We outlined policies in pursuit of a Dynamic Dominica. We set ourselves goals, within a specific time frame, that cannot now be met because of unforeseen global circumstances. The reality is that our country was paralysed for months. Things we wanted to do, we could not do. Some things we started, have not yet been finished. This is not a game of juvenile rounders. Running a government and a country is serious business. We have to operate in the realm of reality and practicality. We have, as a nation, to press the reset button.

We are determined to achieve all that we set ourselves to do in 2019. Indeed, the reality today is that we must do everything we promised back then, and much, much more now, as a consequence of the challenges we endured over the past two and a half years.

We need a national reset if we are to fully recover from COVID and put this country back on a trajectory of real and sustainable development over the next 10 to 15 years.

Towards this end, we have done our own internal analysis. I started first with myself. I have been your chief servant for 22 years. I am eternally humbled and very grateful for the opportunity you have given me to serve. I hope that my efforts will be judged fairly and within context.

On this occasion of National Reset, I have listened to the views of all, and I have made a personal decision, which I have shared with some of my party elders. You have given me a mandate that constitutionally allows me to remain in office as your prime minister until April, 2025. I do not intend to go beyond that date. I have run my race and I intend to finish the course, with Dominica safely back on a road of sustained progress and prosperity. That is why, I am calling for a National Reset!

I would like, however, to preside over a peaceful and dignified transition of prime ministerial leadership to someone of my party and my colleagues’ choosing.

We have as a party and a government to prepare for the next five years of covid rebuild and rebound. It will not be easy, and will require commitment, dedication and perseverance.

There is need for a blend of experience, energy, youth and positive attitude. This is the desired formula for carrying Dominica over the proverbial line.

It is my intention to stay on for another two and a half years, if it is your will. But some of my colleagues who have been with me throughout this journey, and others whose stint in elective politics has been much shorter, have collectively agreed that the time for renewal of the team is NOW.

We need a refreshed Dominica Labour Party team, for these very unpredictable, unprecedented and very challenging times. Following the changes we made in 2019, there shall next time around be other changes, to ensure the continued renewal of our Labour Party frontline, and maintain our continued relevance and the achievement of the visionary goals that we have set ourselves and our country.

The Dominica Labour Party must continue to be the beacon of hope. It must be the option for those who wish to see our country progress. The challenges that we face are Now … they are already upon us. We cannot take chances with the future of this country.

We have set ourselves on a progressive path of development and growth, that will see prosperity for our people and our country.

I shall be honoured to use the benefits of my 22 years experience in politics, to lead the Dominica Labour Party and this country, through this period of global social, political and economic uncertainty.

We shall be the change that the country requires as we continually reshape, adjust, and correct course, as we move steadfastly towards that Dynamic Dominica, a resilient Dominica.

With that in mind, I shall lead a new-look Dominica Labour Party into fresh general elections that will be held at the soonest possible time. I want the year 2023 to begin with a fresh mandate, given to a fresh Labour team, to commence the work of building post-COVID Dominica.

Prime Minister Skerrit calls snap elections: Needs ‘new mandate’

With this in mind, [today] I met with His Excellency the President and advised that he dissolves the current parliament of this country effective immediately.

I have asked that a fresh writ be issued on Monday 7 November, 2022 for the holding of general elections in the Commonwealth of Dominica. The Dominica Labour Party will reveal its new-look slate of candidates in Mahaut on Tuesday, November 8. Nomination Day in Dominica shall be Friday the 18 of November.

General elections day in Dominica, the day on which the Dominica Labour Party will be seeking a fresh mandate, with a fresh team, is Tuesday 6 December, 2022.



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