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Dominica (Photo: Caricom Today)

Dominica’s economy on the mend — PM Skerrit

Dominica (Photo: Caricom Today)

Prime Minister of Dominica Roosevelt Skerrit has indicated that there has been an improvement in the country’s economy, despite grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Like other small island developing states across the globe, Dominica has faced the negative impacts of the shutdowns of businesses and travelling as a result of the pandemic.

“The economy hasn’t gotten back to where it was pre the pandemic,” Skerrit shared recently.

Prime Minister of Dominica Roosevelt Skerrit (Photo: GIS Dominica)

“As you know our economy was projected to grow by 5.6 per cent in 2020 following another 9.6 or 7.0 per cent the year before with a number of capital projects that were on stream. But here came the pandemic and shutdowns and travel restrictions, etc, and every country in the world has suffered from this pandemic and the situation persists; albeit not as dramatic as it was in 2020, but the reality is you are not bringing in the revenues that you were bringing in that the same period in 2019,” he added.

However, the prime minister said the Eastern Caribbean country is progressing with an improvement in the collection of taxes, more specifically income tax and value-added tax.

Committed to the people

Skerrit noted that despite the impact of the pandemic on the economy, the Government has consistently kept up with all its commitments to the Dominican people.

“Notwithstanding the challenges of the economy, we continue to maintain all of our commitments to our seniors, to our pensioners. We have maintained the payments of salaries to public officers, we have also maintained consistent payments to the National Employment Programme, to the 70 and Over allowance,” he said.

“Notwithstanding one or two students in between who sometimes are not dealt with administratively in terms of the payments of their school fees, we have paid in for this financial year about 22 million dollars for students studying overseas,” Skerrit continued.

The prime minister also commended the Dominica public for the way that they have responded to the extreme circumstances.

“One of the things I want to commend Dominicans on is the industriousness that they have shown. People have adapted as a result of COVID-19 and you have seen people change their business model, they have brought in new businesses and my hope and prayer is that we will see these things continue with us as a legacy of COVID-19, with less complaining and people more concentrating on how can I adapt to the circumstance, the reality,” PM Skerrit further added.

Davidson (Tony) Edwards of ShopDM presents to Dominican entrepreneurs on innovation and how to further advance their businesses. Edwards is the author of three books including Lean Startup. (Photo: Facebook @Dominica Association of Industry & Commerce)

Investing in infrastructure

In the meantime, Skerrit’s Administration continues to ramp up investments

in physical infrastructure to improve the country’s resilience to climate change and natural disasters.

In particular, the Government has embarked on the construction and rehabilitation of the island’s road infrastructure, despite Dominica’s challenging terrain.

The economy hasn’t gotten back to where it was pre the pandemic”

— Prime Minister of Dominica Roosevelt Skerrit

Many roads and bridges have severely deteriorated over the year due to the passage of natural disasters, leaving residents to find alternative routes to allow for free flow of transportation.

“As we continue to build a more robust and resilient infrastructure, the Ministry [of Public Works and the Digital Economy] is currently implementing several additional projects throughout the island. The construction of a 12-metre box culvert at Berukua, Grand Bay, is near completion. The scope of this project includes 48 metres of wing walls, 200 metres of rigid pavement, 40 metres of slipper drains, and river dredging upstream and downstream,” portfolio minister Cassanni Laville stated.

Minister of Digital Economy Cassani Laville (Photo: Kairi FM)

At present, the ministry is also completing work on three major road failures on Warner Highway and, according to Laville, “this project will greatly enhance and foster redundancy in the islands road network”.

Other projects include upgrade to the road network in Belles, rehabilitation of Good Hope Road, and construction in Rosseau Valley.

These ongoing major interventions are valued at EC$7.5 million and currently provide employment for over 125 individuals.