Speaking at the launch of the Chinese-funded new building to house the Dominica State College, Skerrit said he had been advised by the Chinese ambassador here that his country has agreed to “finance the resettlement of the residents affected by the flooding of two weeks ago in Massacre, Mahaut and those areas”.
“China will build new homes for those so affected and, second, the Chinese government will fund … the replacement of the Clarke Hall Bridge,” he said without giving the cost of those projects.
But Skerrit defended his government’s close relationship with China, telling the audience “when I say to the people of Dominica that China is indeed a friend of Dominica there are still a few who believe that is not the case”.
“But China has … demonstrated to all of us their sincerity and their willingness to assist us in time of need and we will thank them profusely for that kind of assistance,” he added.
The Dominica State College is among three projects that Beijing is financing under a US$14-million loan agreement. The others are the State House project and housing programme at Bath Estate on the outskirts of the capital.
Skerrit was critical of people whom he said were objecting to the construction of the new building to house the island’s head of state.
“It really boggles the mind when people criticise that kind of investment in our country. There are people who believe we have to run a peasant society, I say to my dear friends if you want all of us to be peasants in this country, then vote the Dominica Labour Party out of office.”
He said his administration would not allow for only the upper class to benefit solely from the resources of the country, adding “they will have to transform our country”.
“Those of us who believe that our president, our head of state, should not live in comfortable accommodation, should be able to receive fellow Dominicans, fellow citizens and all the world leaders in an auspicious venue, I say to you then vote somebody else.
“This government is determined to take this country and its people to a higher level,” he said, adding, “We cannot be satisfied with having a president living on the roadside and a police officer on the streets providing security for him. That cannot be part of who we are as a people full of pride,” Skerrit told the audience.
“We cannot let the world be laughing at us as the backward case in the Caribbean. This is something of the past,” he added.
Dominica established diplomatic relations with China after breaking off its relationship with Taiwan, whom Beijing considers a renegade province, seven years ago.