Updated: August 20, 2017

' In a Democracy, Elected officials should be answerable to people they govern'

In a democratic system (West Minister-styled) are elected Parliamentarians obliged to inform their constituents of their foreign travels? The answer seems to be affirmative. How about those in the Executive Branch of government who, unlike the Parliamentary Opposition, are paid a significantly higher salary and accrue tremendous benefits from the Public Purse? What of the Prime Minister? The answer is a definite Yes! However, in Dominica, the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers have never accepted this practice despite being in government for almost 18 years. In particular, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skirrit has developed a nasty habit of 'playing hooky' while on the 'public dole'.  This has deteriorated with every election that Labor Party has successfully poached. Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit has become more arrogant and disrespectful to people of Dominica.  He takes their vote for granted and, after every election, he seems to have conveniently forgotten all the promises made during the preceding campaign, including a promise to be a considerate steward of the public purse.

Mr. Skerrit and the Dominica Labor Party does not fear being voted out of power because they have found a way to win elections by bringing in nationals living abroad to vote and by manipulating the electoral process.  In fact, Skerrit and his co-conspirators in the Labor Party can basically bypass the local electorate.  So, that means they do not have to be accountable to the voters because, technically Labor Party has established a mechanism to 'win' a Parliamentary majority that is independent of how locals cast their ballots. When Politicians feel that they are not accountable to the electorate, or that the electorate is inconsequential to their success, there is no urge to fulfill campaign promises. In Dominica, Mr. Skerrit and his compatriots has figured how to remain in power by bypassing the local electorate. Hence, Dominica has a mountain of uncompleted and failed projects. 

As a result, Dominica has been governed under a veil of secrecy. In particular, PM Skerrit and many Cabinet Ministers have undertaken undisclosed Foreign travel without announcement of departure or return. In some cases, the country may learn of these activities after their occurrence or if unpleasant aspects come to light. In addition, Skerrit and his cohorts have developed the habit of signing agreements while on mysterious foreign trips without public disclosure; they seek to keep the people in darkness and do not believe that people deserve to know what their government is doing on their behalf. So, it comes as no surprise that sometimes MOU’s are signed on behalf of the people of Dominica, who have no idea that such documents were signed?  One MOU was signed in China with a private company for $300 million dollars and, as of this day the people of Dominica are yet to be told exactly was signed or of its present status.  Such behavior demonstrates disdain for the people of Dominica. Mr. Skerrit and his sect think they know what’s best for Dominicans and they have no need to be informed of such activities.

An important aspect of this misbehavior relates to the key role of the President. According to the Constitution, 'Whenever the Prime Minister is absent from Dominica or,by reason of illness, is unable to perform functions conferred upon him by this constitution, the President may authorize some other minister to perform those functions'. Does the PM inform the President of his absence and, if so, why are Dominicans not informed through the office of the President? Does the President hold similar disdain for Dominicans? Mr. Skerrit seems to move in and out of Dominica like Houdini.  It is no wander the President seems confused!  Who knew that someone (Houdini) who has been dead for almost 100 years has been reincarnated and 'mostly' living in Dominica.

As Prime Minister, Mr. Skerrit seems to think that he does not have to answer to the people of Dominica.  He believes that forming the Ruling Administration permits him to trample on the rights of the populace who have 'elected' his party to govern. There seems to be no understanding that Dominica is not a private business and that the people have a right to know what government is doing in their interest.

Informing the Dominican public would not be difficult, because Dominica has a state-owned radio station.  What is so difficult about putting out a simple press release when Government engages in activities that could potentially impact people's finances, livelihood or security? Instead, the station is largely used to disseminate Labor Party propaganda. 

A 'not-so-subtle' consequence of all this traveling is the cost. Who covers these expenses? Why should the people of Dominica have to pay the Prime Minister during his secretive foreign trips when he does not have the courtesy to inform the Public of his travels and, who will be acting in his place. This clearly demonstrates the disrespect that this character holds for the people of Dominica.

Obviously, Mr. Skerrit and other Cabinet Members have no appreciation of the people’s right to have pertinent information about their whereabouts. The Labor Administration pretends to be unaware of the fact that many of them have been receiving a paycheck from the Dominican people for over 17 years. They are quick to criticize opposition members of being lazy, although most of those members are successful entrepreneurs, farmers and professionals.  Maybe now is the time for Mr. Skerrit and his Cabinet Apparatchiks to leave the security of their position, go out in the real world and try to earn a living independent of the Government of Dominica.

This persistent lack of respect for the Dominican people by the Labor Administration must stop and must be called out by the media and civil society .As a matter of fact, lack of accountability magnifies the public's perception that the current administration is corrupt.  People must keep asking questions and demanding answers if their democracy is to survive.