Updated: February 18, 2018

The Ninetieth Meeting of the Monetary Council of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) was held at the ECCB Headquarters, Basseterre, St Kitts and Nevis, on 16 February 2018, under the chairmanship of the Honourable Roosevelt Skerrit.  This was a serious meeting to address financial and monetary stability, growth and competitiveness of the EC countries. According to the ECCB, the Monetary Council is the highest decision making authority. It is comprised of one Minister appointed by each Government of the participating countries. The function of the Council is to provide directives and guidelines on matters of monetary and credit policy to the Bank.

What is concerning about the recently concluded meeting is Skerrit's response to a Press question raised during a media conference about '...the sustainability of the Citizenship-By-Investment (CBI) Program in Eastern Caribbean countries...'. The question was raised because of IMF's concerns that these CBI programs are becoming a 'race to the bottom'. In particular, many countries are now lowering the price of their citizenship, like a fire-sale. In any event, let us get back to Mr. Skerrit's response to the question. Oh! We are sorry to disappoint readers that his response to an apparently simply inquiry was a ten-minute rambling, incoherent and inconsistent word salad in which he clearly insulted Dominicans. 'Donkey certainly has no place in horse race'.  It would be painful to print the entirety of the PM's response and bore the hell out of those with a modicum of sensibility. In response to the question, Mr. Skerrit whined about the critical importance of CBI to small states with no "fiscal space". He gripped that the media does not understand how small islands like Dominica are challenged by a citizenry that depends upon government for everything except to find them a boyfriend or girlfriend (see quote above). For those hard working Dominicans, this is an extremely disrespectful and dehumanizing comment emanating from an individual who is supposed to represent them.

There are many assumptions and implications in Mr. Skerrit's statement to the Regional Media. First, the comments suggest that significant segments of the Dominican populace are lazy.  Most disappointingly, this individual (Roosevelt Skerrit) clearly harbors disdain for those who he should represent. Through his statement, that the citizenry is dependent on government for everything, he implied that these individuals lack initiative to care for themselves and their families. Think about this for a moment! Skerrit is part of a political hegemony whose survival rest on creating and maintaining dependency. Think 'Red Clinic',  'National Employment Program' and now the 'Special Employment Program': How simplistic? 

Can anyone say that, after 18 years in power, this administration has fostered an environment for job creation? They have systematically destroyed the agricultural sector by deliberately neglecting the farming sector while throwing money into a tourism sector. The tourism sector is floundering due to various structural factors including lack of air access, poor preparation, incorrect product et cetera. CBI money is used almost exclusively used for hotel development at the expense of all other aspects of Dominica development and the result is stark. Dominicans are under or unemployed, small business are struggling, healthcare is on life support and now Skerrit is complaining of dependency. He is whining  that Dominica will not survive without CBI while his administration has systematically worked to destroy the very means that enabled Dominica to prosper in the past and for the said citizenry to make a living. How dishonest?

What Mr. Skerrit did not indicate in his response to the Press query is the critical role CBI has played in generating a small group of nouveau riche in Dominica. Persons in this influential group are all connected to the Labor Party Administration. Previously, persons of average means, they are now real estate developers, wholesale business owners and owners of contracting and excavation companies. CBI has been good to a select few and is indeed critical to their survival. In Dominica, there are no independently audited financial reports on the CBI program so Skerrit and his Cabinet do as they please. Their motto, 'give the people crumbs to pacify them while a select few harness the bulk of financial largesse from CBI'. Time for Dominica to turn a new leaf on development. 

CBI funds should be used to diversify the island's economy. The ruling administration should desist from handing millions to a few 'choice' citizens and stop wasting government resources to bribe voters.  Above all, Skerrit must put a halt to his ugly habit of denigrating the Dominican people when he is out of Dominica, while pretending to care about them when he is on island. Finally Mr. Skerrit should look into the mirror; it is his survival and that of his cabal that is dependent on CBI Funds. Dominica was able to survive and thrive before the program and will do well once he demits office.