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DAIC questions timing of public holiday; UWP says event is a Labour Party affair – Dominica News Online

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President of the Dominica Association of Industry and Commerce (DAIC) Kenny Green says that he has no issue with the praise and thanksgiving concert being held to commemorate the anniversary of Hurricane Maria. However, he says DAIC members are concerned about the timing and way that the prime minister declared today a national holiday.

“No one will argue that the principle and purpose of a thanksgiving and gratitude event to commemorate Maria is a noble one, I don’t think any one in the country in principle, will be against. What it comes down to, is the timing and the process.”

Thursday 19th September 2019 was declared a national holiday to allow residents the opportunity to attend a concert to commemorate the passing of hurricane Maria, which devastated Dominica two years ago (18th Sept 2019).

Green says that it is a bit disappointing and confusing as to how it was done. He questions “the principle of timing and lack of notice” and says that if this is going to be on the regular calendar of events, going forward, “we need to know so that we can be better prepared. I don’t think it was done in such a way that everyone was clear what was going to happen”.

The DAIC president believes that while some employers may not have an issue with the decision, there are some who are concerned about the financial cost to their business.

However, Green has come in for some criticism from the president of the United Workers Party (UWP) which has taken a decision that the Leader of the Opposition and other opposition parliamentarians will not attend.

Isaac Baptiste has called Green a “hypocrite” and said he should resign as head of the DAIC because according to him, Green is serving his own interest and not the members.

Baptiste told DNO that his party is “shocked by the insensitivity of the prime minister to the current economic situation facing the private sector in Dominica post Hurricane Maria”.

He said the situation was bad prior to Maria and post Maria, it became worse for the majority of business owners, particularly small businesses.

“The private sector has a right to be angered, because they are in a situation where the economy is not at the level that it should be after such a major disaster, in terms of growth and performance and to declare a public holiday to force them to pay wages for non performance of work , is insensitive,” Baptiste stressed.

He said the concert is not a national activity, not a government activity but “a Labouir Party planned activity, to try and bring people to the location, with the expectation that performance by the artists will help boost the image of the Labour Party” and pointed out that the event was announced as part of the calendar of activities of the Dominica Labour Party.

He referred to Commonwealth Observer Mission report after the 2014 general election which identified abuse of incumbency (Government using state resources to have an advantage in the general election) as one of the faults of the election process.

“One of the areas which they identified was the fact of “Abuse of incumbency – by trying to buy votes, by treating and bribery – this is exactly what is happening with this concert”.

According to Baptiste, if this was truly a national event in commemoration of the passage of Hurricane Maria, the clergy and church community would have been invited to lead the activity.

“They (government) did not do that!,” he stated. ……..in fact – the Catholic Church did organize a mass, one year post Maria and they invited all officials and none of the Dominica Labour Party Officials attended. So it is a hypocritical thing they are now doing!”

The Builders and Contractors Association (BCAD) and Dominica Public Service Union (DPSU) have also expressed their opposition to the event.

Expressing concern about the lack of transparency and accountability with regard to the nation’s affairs, BCAD president, Anthony Leblanc, encouraged all workers and employees to go out to the concert with placards asking “where the money went because it did not go to the treasury!”

General Secretary of the Public Service Union (PSU) Thomas Letang lamented the fact that the country is being shut down for an activity which is scheduled to begin in the afternoon and said the union would not be attending.

“Had the PSU called it members out for half day protest, most Dominicans would call them wicked,” Letang noted.

Letang also has grave concerns about the lack of transparency and accountability in the governance of the country’s affairs.

“We are serious about this matter and my executive will be meeting as early as next week to take a decision as to how we are going to demonstrate our dissatisfaction with the missing $1.2 billion and to come up with ways where we  can involve our members and rest of Dominica can see what our position is.”





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DLP presents its election manifesto; asks Dominicans to ‘judge us’

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The Dominica Labour Party (DLP) has launched its 2019 Manifesto.

The Manifesto, entitled ‘Dynamic Dominica’ a New Season of Development, was presented to the Dominican public at a meeting held on the Mahaut Playing field on Thursday night.

The party gave the assurance that whatever was delivered on Thursday night will be delivered to Dominica because the DLP has demonstrated that it keeps its promises.

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit who was addressing DLP supporters gathered at the event said the manifesto is laid out with a pictorial that traces the history, the challenges faced and the success of labour.

“It then goes into broad sections, building resilience is section 1. This, as you know, is my signature initiative,” he revealed. “While most people think resilience in the environmental context, the manifesto seeks to create resilience building in a social and economic context.”

Skerrit continued, “It is the goal of the labour party that I lead, to build something valuable, sustainable and enduring.”

According to him, the country’s national infrastructure has to sustain the people who live in the Dominican society.

“The economy must sustain infrastructure and the people,” he stated.  “It’s the people who must build the infrastructure and build productive capacity into the economy.”

To address climate resilience Skerrit said the DLP intends to put its utility on the ground.

“Utilize building standards that allow our properties to stand against extreme weather events…,” he stated, “we will build disaster resource centres across Dominica with community evacuation plans at Castle Bruce, Grandbay, Jimmit, the Kalinago Territory, Marigot, Portsmouth and Roseau.”

The prime minister said that this will be accomplished, “by utilizing renewable energy from geothermal resources, banning single-use plastics and giving incentives for electric vehicles.”

Furthermore, Skerrit said his party’s plans to construct 5000 climate-resilient houses is well on the way, “as our efforts to reinforce our drainage and defenses and establish in Dominica, a global centre for climate studies.”

He mentioned also that his party plans to expand the country’s cruise capacity by building a cruise port to hold more cruise ships and bring greater activity into the city.

The construction of a new International Airport also forms part of the DLP’s 2019 Manifesto.

The DLP leader said the Manifesto ends with the section Dynamic Dominica and the world.

“It deals with the Dominican diaspora whose skills, goodwill, energy and resources we need to help build ‘Dynamic Dominica’,” he indicated. “It also points to the fact that this government prudently extended our global footprint with strategic friendships which advanced our national interest.”

He went on to say that his party is offering Dominicans the only real development plan that has been put on the table which presents the social policies and programmes that will make a difference in people’s lives.

“It demonstrates how young people will get new opportunities and it indicates by what means the country’s seniors would be given comfort as they age,” he said.

“This is a country in which there are new opportunities for all,” the prime minister continued, “This is a country in which all our citizens are respected and looked after irrespective of their political affiliations.”

Skerrit said in this election, the moment has come for labour to lay its plan before the country and say, “judge us.”

“We ask you to judge us on five things,” he indicated.

1.      The quality of labour’s performance as a government, having to face two hurricanes virtually back-to-back and one of them with the devastating power of Maria.

2.      The progress of Dominica over the last 20 years, we have moved from the island with the least development to one which is growing rapidly and comparing favourably to our neighbours who used to be far ahead of us.

3.      The social services, healthcare, education, housing and infrastructure labour has put in place in Dominica which has modernized this country.

4.      Labour’s delivery on its past promises made on political platforms and in previous manifestos

5.      The quality and breadth of labour’s new vision for the Commonwealth of Dominica.

The Dominica Labour Party Manifesto is now available at www.dominicalabourparty.org

Meantime, the opposition United Workers Party (UWP) plans to launch their 2019 Manifesto on Friday 29th November in Roseau.





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COMMENTARY: Save Dominica’s Democracy – Dominica News Online

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Dominicans will go to the polls on December 6, 2019, with the will and the need to save the nation. But will the votes of Dominicans actually count?

The people will cast their votes in the face of an incumbent Government which has demonstrated that it will circumvent Dominican law, spurn public outrage, and defy the recommendations of the international community in order to stay in office.

The Commonwealth Dominica is an independent nation in the Eastern Caribbean with membership in the Caribbean Community(CARICOM), the Commonwealth of Nations, and the Organization of American States (OAS). On or about September 27, 2019, those international organizations rendered a report on electoral reform to the Government of Dominica.

Those recommendations included:

  1. Cleansing the electoral list of dead and non-resident nationals absent from the country for more than 5 years
  2. Issuance of voter ID cards
  3. The institution of measures to ensure that overseas voters, not within the bounds of the electoral law, are not allowed to vote.

On or about September 27, 2019, Dominica’s Attorney General, Levi Peter, immediately rejected the report as unacceptable and impracticable. That, despite numerous calls by the Parliamentary Opposition and the Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM) that the three recent elections on Dominica had been tainted by bribery of voters, the importation of voters from overseas who did not meet the residency requirements and credible claims of voting by persons using names of persons long deceased.

These common-sense recommendations to ensure that Dominican elections would be free and fair were not new or radical. They have been proposed consistently over the years, and the Government and its Administration have had ample time to ensure that Dominica could be a model of electoral fairness and transparency.

On November 5, 2019 in a stunning rejection of the recommendations of the international organizations to which Dominica belongs, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit moved to dissolve Parliament and called general elections for December 6, 2019. Prime Minister Skerrit acted in brazen violation of the tenets of democracy and rule of law. He acted with wanton disregard of the recommendations made by those international organizations to which Dominica claims association, and from which it gains its legitimacy.

Mr. Skerrit’s actions were despotic and tyrannical in that they came in the midst of calls by the Parliamentary Opposition Leader Lennox Linton and others that he the Prime Minister account for an estimated $1.2-billion dollars missing from Dominica’s 2018/2019 passport sales. The Government of Dominica not only refused to account for the missing State funds, but is using those funds to mount a lavish campaign of vote rigging preparations by enrolling non-citizens and others on the voter rolls, using publicly-owned media and state resources exclusively for the benefit of the ruling Dominica Labour Party and contracting with airlines and marine carriers to transport foreign-based voters to the polls at no charge to those voters.

Such actions are, prima facie, in defiance of the Constitution which was created to protect the rights of Dominican citizens.

The actions of the ruling Dominica Labour Party threaten social peace on the island, undermines rule of law, eviscerates our democratic tradition and prevents the pursuit of free and fair elections. We, therefore, call on the United Nations and, the international organizations which made the fair and just electoral reform recommendations, to condemn the calling of elections by the Skerrit regime without reform.

Further, we ask that CARICOM, the Commonwealth and the OAS immediately arrange to send election observers to Dominica to ensure that our democracy and rule of law is preserved. This must, of necessity, be an observer mission with deep ability to probe not merely the conduct of election-day events, but also to ensure that the electoral rolls have been verified; that vote counting is assured to be free from rigging; and that the electoral authorities themselves are able to be certified as being free from coercion or bias.

Finally, we ask that all freedom-loving nations and traditional allies act to bring pressure to bear on the Government to ensure that free and fair elections are held on Dominica, come December 6, 2019.

It is clear that neither the Dominican public nor the international community will tolerate, support, or deal with a Government which has no legitimacy and which has shown no respect for domestic or international law.





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Eighteen organizations benefit from President’s Charities Foundation

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President of Dominica, His Excellency Charles Savarin

Eighteen charitable organizations in Dominica have benefited from proceeds raised during the President’s Charities Foundation fundraising dinner for 2018.

Some of the recipient organizations include the Dominica Association of Persons with Disabilities (DAPD), St Jerome’s Ministry, Lupus Foundation, Dominica Council on Aging, R.E.A.C.H, House of Hope, St Vincent De Paul Society (Roseau & Northern Branches), The Social Centre (St. Ann’s Day Nursery) , Operation Youth Quake, and the Dominica Dementia Foundation.

The ceremony for the handing over of the cheques was held at the St. Alphonsus Parish Hall on Wednesday, November 13th , 2019.

President of Dominica His Excellency, Charles Savarin, said at the ceremony that this year’s gross receipt of $EC110, 105 for the fundraising dinner represented a slight increase over last year’s amount of $EC99,000.

A total of $EC23,000 was given out to eleven of the eighteen charitable organizations and the rest will be disbursed in visits made to the other institutions.

He added that the net surplus this year was $EC68,612 compared to $EC64,000 last year.

“We also contributed $10,000 to the Mahaut scout troop… for support in the completion of their den. Also, following the disaster of Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas, the government established an appeal fund to which the President’s Charities Foundation contributed $5,000 and we have reserved $10,000 for the hosting of the children’s Christmas party,” His Excellency explained.

He also said that $EC5,000 was placed in a reserve fund which will be used to assist different establishments in their time of need.

The President called on the general public to support the fundraising dinner.





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