Dominica News Online:
Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, has said Dominica’s CBI Program should be immune from partisanship while Opposition Leader Lennox Linton is calling for accountability of the program.
Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony of the CBI-funded Anichi Resort in Portsmouth earlier this week, Skerrit said Dominica would not be where it is today in its response to Hurricane Maria if it wasn’t for the CBI program.
“We in Dominica, sometimes we allow our petty difference to get in the way of bigger things for our country, more constructive things for our country and that is why we have always said to Dominicans that the CBI Program must be immune from partisanship,” he stated. “We must see these things as our treasures because had it not been for the CBI, I can say to you as the Minister for Finance, we would not be where we are today in our response to the hurricane notwithstanding the fact that 226 percent of our GDP was impacted by this hurricane.”
According to the Prime Minister, Dominica has not defaulted on any of its debt since the hurricane, thanks to the CBI.
“This government and this country have not defaulted on one debt payment since the hurricane,” he noted. “Institutions like the World Bank when I met with them in October, were very surprised that their monies came to them at the end of September, our debt repayment to the World Bank came at the end of September after the hurricane.”
He added, “all our pensioners are receiving their pensions today, funds from the CBI. Every single public servant has been paid since the hurricane, from the CBI. Every single expenditure of the state in large measure, the funds have come from the CBI because what we do in the government is that we manage the resources very prudently and responsibly. We are responsive but also very responsible and lucky for us we had some saved so that when the hurricane came we could buy food and water for our citizens and not rely entirely on the benevolence of our benefactors.
But according to Linton, there must be accountability of the program.
“I am hearing now that the Prime Minister is indicating that the CBI has kept us afloat, yes because the CBI money is coming in at 40 to 50 million dollars a month,” he stated. “The Prime Minister went into great detail to tell the people of Dominica of all of the taxes that are not being received, all about the tax revenue that was down but nothing about the CBI revenues that are being used for a number of different things. We need to have that accounted.”
Linton gave examples of what must be revealed by the government.
“We need to know what has been the in flow of CBI monies since the storm, what was the balance when the storm came, how much is coming and what had these monies been used for,” he said.
He stated that there are a number of things the government should have done since the hurricane.
“There are a number of things the government could have done and ought to have done since the storm that has not been done and a lot of things that have been done late could have been done a lot sooner because its not like we didn’t have money, we had money over $400-million of passport money when the storm came,” he said. “We never sat down to reorder priorities based on the budget that we passed two months before and that is the significance of meetings of parliament.”