Roosevelt Skerrit and the Small Business Debaucle


After days of speculation about whether grant money for small businesses would be forthcoming, Prime Minister Skerrit spoke on DBS radio on March 27th, 2018. He confirmed to 1500 small and micro businesses that they would not be getting the $5,376 that was promised to each of  them under a World Bank Grant. Instead, the money would go to repairing the East Coast Roads. His reasoning was a contorted mish-mash of words which left a lot of questions unanswered. How is it possible that he did not know that the East Coast Roads were a priority?  Why did his administration encourage small businesses to spend their scarce resources trying to meet the Grant requirements? In any event, it is difficult to fathom why an alternative source of funding could not have been utilized instead of disappointing  so many small entrepreneurs. What happened to the CBI money? What better use of such monies than for "investing" in small businesses in Dominica? On the other hand, is Mr. Skerrit being strategic and decided to use the CBI money to support the small businesses and in so doing he does not have to follow the rules?

Regardless, Mr. Skerrit made the deliberate choice to be spiteful to the small business people just because he may have been cautioned about the callous behavior of his administration in handling the Agricultural Grant for farmers.  It's obvious that Mr. Skerrit is under this false notion that even if he accepts Loans/Grants from International Organizations and because Dominica is a sovereign nation he can do as he pleases with "other people's monies".  In other words, he had no difficulty with using the $18 million carded for farmers and fishers to dole out to who ever he wishes. With the ensuing backlash, the administration realized that they would not be able to do the same with the small businesses. So, the decision was taken to return the money to the Disaster Vulnerability Reduction Programme (DVRP) fund for use on the East Coast Roads. That was absolutely unnecessary.  That  particular DVRP  was approved by the World Bank since September 2014 and has US$39.5 Million dollars committed funding. The East Coast Roads Rehabilitation is just one of the projects within that DVRP and should have been ongoing anyway.  Furthermore, after Maria there is the opportunity to apply for more funding to complete the projects within that DVRP. How  is US$3 million dollars going to help in that context? Such pettiness! 

Is anyone surprised that after 15 years this administration continues to act so childish, mean and inconsiderate?  It appears that Mr. Skerrit had no difficulty putting the kibosh on the monies for the small businesses just to satisfy his fragile ego. How selfish? Mr. Skerrit and his pliable Cabinet continues to manage the country as if they running a 'chandel moui'. In particular, the current Cabinet believes it can do as it pleases with Dominica's finances without parliamentary oversight. What is clear is that unless the approach changes, future problems will develop in the management of the massive rebuilding and reconstruction efforts in Dominica. International Donors, including the World Bank, who will be 'footing' the bill for these projects should take heed. Dominicans, it is time to remove the 'square pegs from round holes'.
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