On Monday, October 8, 2019, the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica, the Honourable Roosevelt Skerrit received the Letters of Credence of the new UNDP Representative for Barbados and the OECS, Magdy Martinez Soliman. Martinez was accompanied by the new Head of UNDP’s Office in Dominica, Luis Francisco Thais.
Dominica hosts the single-largest programme of UNDP in the Eastern Caribbean, focused on the blue economy, resilience-building, climate action and the ongoing recovery of health, education and housing infrastructure damaged by Hurricane Maria in 2017. UNDP’s programmes have been supported by China, India, the United Kingdom, Canada and the European Union, in addition to Denmark, Romania, New Zealand and Japan.
Prime Minister Skerrit emphasized during the courtesy call the long-standing relationship between Dominica and UNDP, going back to 2002 when the United Nations Development Programme helped the country in finding policy options within the stringent conditions of the then structural adjustment. Fast forward, UNDP was the first responder of the UN after Hurricane Maria hit in 2017, and has been one of the prime recovery partners of Dominica, on the road to becoming the first climate-resilient nation on the planet.
The Prime Minister encouraged UNDP senior officials to provide technical assistance on housing, undertake a review of public expenditure containment and continue supporting the recovery of educational infrastructure, notably the Salisbury State College. The Government and UNDP have been in promising conversations with diplomatic representatives of the People’s Republic of China in this regard.
Following the private audience, the Prime Minister presided over a meeting of his Cabinet with the UNDP Representatives, which was then handed over for the Foreign Minister, the Hon. Francine Baron, to Chair. Cabinet Ministers debated several projects with the international guests including PAYS (the Portsmouth Association of Yachting Services) – which receives UNDP support – Kalinago community assistance and, economic management of public revenue and recovery.
Martinez Soliman had met earlier in the morning with the Honourable Leader of the Opposition, Dr. Lennox Linton, at the House of Assembly, and will have encounters throughout his mission with the Resident Judge of the High Court and the Ambassadors of Cuba and Venezuela. Bilateral meetings are also scheduled with the Minister for Planning and Economic Development; the Minister of Education and Human Resource Development; the Minister for Environment, Climate Resilience, Disaster Management and Urban Renewal; the Minister for Kalinago Affairs and the Minister for Justice, Immigration and National Security.
Soliman will leave the country after having visited the Kalinago territory and met the Kalinago Council. The UNDP Head hosted a press conference for main media representatives and a discussion with local Civil Society Organisations, including the Dominican Association for Persons with Disabilities and the National Youth Council of Dominica, among others.
Skerrit – Caricom support ‘overwhelming’ for Baroness Scotland
19 hours ago
February 20, 2020
Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said heads of government of CARICOM have expressed their “overwhelming” support for the renewal of the term of office for Secretary General Baroness Scotland.
Scotland, a Dominican by birth is under pressure from the international community to resign from her position of Secretary General of the Commonwealth.
But Skerrit who spoke on the sidelines of the Thirty-First Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in Bridgetown, said the grouping is standing behind Scotland.
He said at the meeting, heads of governments also expressed their gratitude for her achievement during her tenure.
“Heads of governments expressed our gratitude for the range of activities undertaken by the Commonwealth Secretariat whose added value redounded to the benefit of small island and low lying coastal developing states,” he said.
According to Skerrit who has been one of Scotland’s main supporters, the heads of government also expressed support for the renewal of the term of office of the secretary general.
“We do hope that when we meet in Rwanda, the current holder of the post of secretary general will receive a second term in that very important office,” he said.
Skerrit said heads of CARICOM also engaged Scotland “directly and frankly” on the issues leveled against her in the media.
But he said CARICOM remained satisfied and accepted the responses given by her as “legitimate”.
The questions about Scotland’s future leadership of the Commonwealth came after she was criticized by internal auditors last November for awarding a lucrative consultancy contract to a company run by her friend.
The audit committee report also found that the Secretariat had no register of either tender waivers or conflicts of interest and was unable to explain why not.
That committee also identified 50 occasions between July 2015 and June 2018 when the usual procurement tenders had been waited by the Commonwealth Secretariat.
Baroness Scotland has always denied any wrongdoing
Scotland’s four-year term of office as secretary general comes to an end next month.
The UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is said to be backing moves to persuade Amina Mohamed, a 58-year-old Kenyan politician, to challenge Baroness Scotland if she refuses to stand down.