Dominica’s deputy PM derides opposition ‘fictional plans’ for housing development

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Deputy Prime Minister Reginald Austrie

By Melanius Alphonse
Caribbean News Now associate managing editor
[email protected]

ROSEAU, Dominica – Last Wednesday, the opposition United Workers Party (UWP) of Dominica indicated that their [thus far unidentified] plans for housing development in Dominica “will be different from what is being offered” by the Dominica Labour Party (DLP) under the leadership of Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, leading to much derision from the deputy prime minister and a well-known local attorney, as well as by commentators on social media.

Presenting the unidentified housing plan, UWP Senator Isaac Baptiste, who is an urban planner by training, said, “We will provide housing not based on what they think the people want, but what the people need to improve their housing quality.” ‎

In response to the UWP’s “unidentified fictional plans”, Deputy Prime Minister Reginald Austrie said:

“Even a cursory view of Dominica’s housing revolution, which is providing thousands of affordable houses for all Dominicans, contradicts Baptiste’s visual aptitude, urban planning and construction knowledge to comprehend what the government, investors, donor agencies and the people of Dominica have achieved in building sustainable homes that can withstand extreme weather events, meant to improve the lives of our people and economic advance of Dominica.”

Bellevue Chopin: Dominica Housing

“Dominica’s housing revolution is a reality,” Austrie continued, “compared to the UWP’s housing plan of fiction… to build core housing in order for families to extend their homes whenever they choose to do so.”

He went on to invite Baptiste to visit Dominica’s flagship housing project: Bellevue Chopin, “a housing programme that is modern and extending throughout the country to benefit all Dominicans as they go about their daily lives.”

Baptiste also claimed, without evidence, that the DLP housing programme lacked transparency.

‘It lacks consultation; it lacks understanding of the needs of the people, their cultural needs and their traditions,” he said.

“We will not promote multiple unit, multi-level housing in rural areas where there is adequate land to provide housing. We will work with them and build houses on their land so they have automatic ownership of those properties and not wait for some politician to tell them I will give you strata title and don’t know when they will get it,” he continued.

“Our housing programme will also ensure that, recognizing that families, many of them are single parents and they are expanding families, so we must provide them with expandable homes and not fix them into four walls that they cannot expand their homes.” he said.

In response, a commenter on social media described Baptiste’s and opposition leader Lennox Linton’s UWP housing plan as “fiction and fully equipped with misinformation,” adding, “What a load of crap, [UWP] housing programme will be based on what people need! Five-year-old schoolboy talk. You people are so full of nonsense, it is appalling.”

Notwithstanding Dominica’s extensive tracts of mountainous terrain, the island actually has a shortage of buildable land, an independent expert confirmed. It is, therefore, necessary to emphasize maximum use of land and space in building a modern-livable development that requires mixed housing development, purpose-built communities on multiple levels.

“Similarly, there is no significant reasoning to understand Baptiste’s odd facts about Dominica’s housing revolution funded entirely by the Dominica’s citizenship by investment (CBI) programme, to the benefit of all Dominicans and acknowledged by the Financial Times’ Professional Wealth magazine for its due diligence, affordability, efficiency and commitment to integrity,” Austrie said.

“It’s unreal what is being propagated by the UWPs. The real question is whose puppet is the Lennox Linton’s UWP, demonstrating willful illiteracy in the socio-economic development of our people and country?” Austrie asked.

The UWP policy position

In response to a request for comment, counsel to the government of Dominica, Anthony W. Astaphan, SC, described the UWP policy position as “misinformation” in contrast to universal “maximum acclamation and appreciation for Dominica’s housing revolution.”

“The first observation you will make when you listen to anything from the leadership of the UWP, especially its leader, is that it makes no sense. He has no content, there’s no factual basis, there are no policy parameters, no blueprint, there’s nothing. They have adopted a policy position that is not in the interest of the people of Dominica.

“They just speak-out in a reactive way to try to see if they can divert attention from the significant progress that the Skerrit administration has achieved in Dominica since hurricane Maria,” Astaphan continued.

Maximum acclamation and appreciation

“The Skerrit administration is spending hundreds of millions of dollars developing Dominica’s housing revolution and the infrastructure of Dominica, elevating the lives of the people in the process. They have done it with minimal cost to taxpayers, because most, if not all of it is CBI funded.

“There has been nothing but maximum acclamation and appreciation for Dominica’s housing revolution that the government has established, is constructing and has handed over to many residents already.

“We have had the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Union, the United Nations, donors, other institutions that are absolutely pleased and astonished with the achievement of the government and people of Dominica.

“The UWP now wants to become cute, whereas normally, they are always dishonest and pathological in their misinformation. They now want to say they will give the people what they want. What does that mean?

“Their sole purpose is to demonize Dominica, subvert the country, undermine the recovery process without presenting a simple solitary constructive policy position that would benefit the people in this country. If you cannot do that in opposition, you certainly cannot do it in government,” Astaphan said.

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