Dominica PM recognises LIAT’s socio-economic impact

By Melanius Alphonse
Caribbean News Now associate managing editor

ROSEAU, Dominica – Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit has reiterated Dominica’s commitment to contribute to the “sustainability and sustenance” of LIAT. This recognition is also significant to the economic impact on Dominica’s housing revolution, citizenship by investment and the tourism industry, together, the most vital components of Dominica’s social and economic viability, following tropical storm Erika in 2015.

“We need to look at things from a holistic standpoint and ensure that everybody needs to play their part in order for LIAT to be sustainable for it to continue to fly,” Skerrit noted. “And this is why Dominica is committed in its humble way, to make a contribution to LIAT’s sustenance and its sustainability because we in Dominica appreciate the importance of LIAT to the economy of Dominica,” he stated. “We do not have a largesse of funds but the little that we have or the little that we do not have, we will certainly make a contribution to LIAT sustainability and sustenance.”

Dominica’s housing revolution is the envy of the Caribbean, part of a more significant feat to construct up to 5,000 homes across Dominica thus the movement of people, goods and services are vital, in the service to hundreds of Dominican workers and others from the region and beyond. In the process boosting economic growth locally and regionally, helping to reduce unemployment contribution to the socio-economics of the region.

The Belleview Chopin housing project is a prime example, financed entirely by Dominica’s citizenship by investment (CBI) program, to provide affordable and climate-resilient homes to families throughout the country.

In September 2016, the government contracted Montreal Management Consultants Est (MMCE) and launched the Bellevue Chopin Housing Programme to benefit Petite Savanne residents displaced by Erika.

The Bellevue Chopin project consists of 340 residential units and a 28-unit commercial complex. The commercial complex will be used as a daycare and early childhood education centre, sports and recreation, shops and boutiques.

Fifty-two families from the Petite Savanne community are now proud owners of new homes in the Bellevue Chopin region. An additional 190 homes are expected to be distributed among residents from Petite Savanne with another 110 homes dispersed across the island.

Following 2017’s hurricane Maria, Skerrit pledged to make Dominica the “world’s first climate resilient nation”. The island’s commitment is reinforced by its attention to building sustainable homes that can withstand extreme weather events through its build back better concept.

Meanwhile, owner of Virgin Atlantic, billionaire Richard Branson, is said to be interested in investing $7 million in the regional airline, chief executive officer (CEO) Julie Reifer-Jones gave the assurance [that] “LIAT is committed to connecting the region, flying to the 15 destinations across the network.”

Skerrit acknowledged the regional airline’s impact on tourism; the economic lifeblood of the Caribbean is also a concern for governor of the Central Bank of Barbados Cleviston Haynes.

Dominica registered strong fourth quarter performance to signal tourism recovery. The increases were registered at 91 percent, 113 percent and 78 percent respectively during the last three months of the year compared to 2017.

Meanwhile, Skerrit understands issues of sustainability and the sustenance of LIAT, since 1993, Dominica has been offering reputable global investors and their families a means of acquiring second citizenship either through a monetary contribution to the economic diversification fund (EDF) or buying into pre-approved real estate, which includes eco-friendly world-class brands and resorts.

Dominica’s CBI is yet another tangible manifestation of the prudent, responsible and visible use of the CBI funds, “much to the benefit, satisfaction and improvement of our country and our citizens,” Skerrit said, at the commencement of another 32 new, affordable, and, crucially, weather-resistant homes for Bellevue Rawle families.

Dominica’s growth and development merits very serious consideration to inter-regional air travel, and affordability. “Yes we will criticize” [LIAT] Skerrit said, “Yes we have issues with LIAT but let us not set aside the greater good of this company and its services to our region.” “I mean all of us would be impacted,” accentuating “we will see a serious challenge.”

Financial Times’ professional wealth management magazine ranked Dominica as the world’s best CBI programme, highlighting its efficiency, affordability and strict due diligence procedures, hitherto, if LIAT were to go under, “All of us will be impacted, all of us, and therefore it requires a concerted collective action on our part to get things going,” Skerrit said.