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Letter: Dominica's bridge to nowhere
Published on May 6, 2017Email To Friend    Print Version

Dear Sir:

Let us all celebrate the newly-opened “West Bridge” in Roseau. Unlike many other highly-touted government projects, this one has actually reached the rare state of completion! Let us instead return our attention to a more important bridge: Dominica’s very own “Bridge to Nowhere” -- the Citizenship by Investment (CBI) program that is being used to maintain our dismal economic status-quo, rather than fueling a transformation of our struggling economy.

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With hundreds of millions in revenue, the CBI program should serve as the bridge to economic parity with our OECS co-members. But the current CBI spending pattern suggests that even when awash with money, the government insists on using the program to keep our economy in its stagnant state. Dominicans should not need another CBS report to remind us that:

1. CBI remains shrouded in secrecy – Dominicans still do not know the true amount raised by this program, nor do they know who their DIPLOMATIC passport holders are and the manner in which they obtained this status. Long-term economic planning cannot be conducted on a program that cannot be openly discussed in parliament.

2. The CBI program poses significant money-laundering risks, as per the US State Department; projects such as the West Bridge are implemented without regular economic oversight and tendering that prevents wanton corruption. Corruption always stymies economic growth.

3. The types of projects undertaken by CBI (see list below) – such as the West Bridge – signals no transformative potential for Dominica’s economy. Export-oriented or service industries should be the focus of CBI spending as they earn income and may attract additional foreign investment.

Roosevelt Skerrit’s CBI public relations campaign aims to erase Dominican’s memory of the CBS 60 Minutes report that revealed the security risks posed by the program and downplay the many international criminals that were issued diplomatic passports from Dominica. In damage-control mode, Skerrit has promised to use over $300 million of CBI funds to cover everything from new toilets and apartments, to national ID cards and an international airport!

These promises were made in spite of the government’s inability to deliver on countless past promises such as the National Abattoir and many unrepaired bridges and roads around the country, not to mention their ongoing challenges managing routine functions such as regular garbage collection and ensuring adequate medical supplies are available at the national hospital.

Dominica lags far behind other Caribbean nations in Foreign Direct Investment, we have a crippling unemployment rate, and the IMF recently predicted that our trade deficit is expected to widen. The IMF’s advice to Skerrit is the same as every Dominican citizen’s: improve the conditions for private investment, especially for export-oriented industries.

Yet, in spite of Dominica’s glaring economic challenges, and the pointed advice of the IMF, Skerrit has doubled-down on social spending and non-priority projects. Rather than expanding our tourism or agricultural industries to create new sustainable jobs, the current goal of Skerrit’s administration is to save their political seats, and keep their unaudited coffers flowing.

The opposition United Worker’s Party has forced Skerrit to come clean on his misstatements about the CBI program’s due diligence and pushed them to begin spending the money long shored up in government accounts. It is now up to regular Dominican citizens to demand proper vetting of the CBI program and efficient administration of its funds. If they fail to do so, after the CBI millions have all been spent, Dominica will be no better off than it is today.

We would be wise to remember that infrastructure requires upkeep, and without developing a thriving private sector that increases the tax base, CBI – our best opportunity to transform our economy – will simply be Dominica’s bridge to nowhere.

Cherry Pacquette
 
Reads : 5824






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Comments:

Michael Davis:

Selective reading on the part of the author, and, regurgitations of proven falsehoods is the Cherry Pacquette bridge to disingenuousness.

The very same "per the US State Department" report states:

"Dominica has achieved technical compliance with international anti money laundering standards and has enacted comprehensive anti-money laundering laws and regulations, and is not currently subjected to any US or international sanctions ..."

Leighton R James:

Very Reasonable Summation.

Ms. Pacquette has highlighted key deficiencies in the Labor Party's approach to governance and use of Dominica's Financial Resources.

Rationality and logic will support her inference. Personal degradation will differ. Notwithstanding, this piece reflects a succinct synopsis of where things stand regarding abuse of CBI funds in Dominica.

Of course, money laundering is a another matter. Labor Party Administration is all smoking mirrors. Operatives have attempted to bring large sums of money into island without consequences or oversight. On the other hand, 'regular folks' are taken, by local Banks, through the shredder to convert USD $100 to XCD currency.

Maleficence knows no bounds.

Frankie D:

Cherry your article is too misleading to be taken seriously.

Firstly, the National Abbatoir is fully functional with efficient employees who take pride in doing what they do.

If you truly want to know who the holders of diplomatic passports are, ask a friend to FEDEX you some of the very public gazettes.

The West Bridge was very necessary, who knows when the old one could have collapsed and what tragedy people could face if people were to be on or around it... with the bridge came a river wall for the community of Pottersville. We all witnessed what happened to an entire street during Erika, how a church and school collapsed into the river, how an entire house was flooded by the same river and how it ruined the area.

If you are going to send in your letters, at least be objective and state the correct facts!


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