Dominica’s Prime Minister, Dr the Honourable Roosevelt Skerrit, has enacted a national development strategy focused on bolstering the long-term quality of life of his citizens. From youth engagement and healthcare to agriculture and housing, the success of this strategy has played out across the island.
When Hurricane Maria struck Dominica almost two years ago, slashing GDP by 225% and causing the loss of homes for hundreds, Prime Minister Skerrit’s leadership was undeniably put to the test. Not only was immediate action needed in areas such as infrastructure, but a long-term view was required to build greater resilience to extreme weather. The Prime Minister’s development strategy has achieved both.
Housing and Health Infrastructure
Devised by the Prime Minister, Dominica’s celebrated Housing Revolution is on schedule to provide new homes for more than 5,000 Dominicans. All new homes are hurricane-proof, with utilities being placed underground, structures built with reinforced concrete, and fortified windows being used. Thousands of people have already been relocated to these new and improved homes, including nearly 1,000 Petite Savanne residents. The Housing Revolution is entirely funded by Dominica’s Citizenship by Investment Programme – a scheme fully supported by the Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister has also met local desire for greater healthcare, and played a significant role in developing the flagship China-Dominica Friendship Hospital. Comprising nine buildings, the first phase of the Hospital will be handed over by developers this month.
Agriculture and Tourism
Prime Minister Skerrit has worked towards modernising Dominica’s agriculture sector. Last October, he penned an Economic and Technical Agreement with the Chinese Government worth EC$120 million for the development of agriculture, education, health, and national security. Already, an Agriculture Science Complex Building in Portsmouth has been commissioned, and feasibility studies for the building completed. This month, the Prime Minister signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Serbia, whereby the Serbian Government will provide assistance to Dominica in developing innovative agricultural practices such as greenhouse farming and aquaponics.
Prime Minister Skerrit’s continued investment in tourism has also produced results. The Caribbean Tourism Organisation reported a 12% increase in tourist arrivals in Q1 2019, with a 24% rise in arrivals from the United States. The cruise sector likewise excelled, seeing a record 10.7 million passengers in Q1.
Education and Youth Engagement
Dominica’s youth is another area where Prime Minister Skerrit has employed a strategic, long-term view. In May, the Dominica Association of Industry and Commerce announced a new initiative introducing STEM subjects for students. The initiative was launched in collaboration with Former United States Secretary of State and First Lady Hilary Clinton and will trial for a year in the Arthur Waldron SDA Academy. Additionally, Dominicans aged between 16 and 35 will benefit from the Government’s new Youth Emergency Action Committee: a project aimed at empowering and engaging young people throughout the island’s vulnerable communities. The project launched on 2 June 2019 in Pointe Michel and will provide participants with training and equipment to build disaster responsiveness.
The examples above only touch the surface of Prime Minister Skerrit’s success, which also extends to national energy, ICT services, and international relations. It is surprising, that, amidst such accomplishments, certain media outlets should choose to criticise the Prime Minister in what clearly seem to be poorly-researched tales of long-gone or unsubstantiated transgressions. “When taken in the context of the run-up to elections this coming December, perhaps this is less surprising than you would think,” said one Dominican local.
Whatever the reason, the hard facts of Prime Minister Skerrit’s numerous, island-wide accomplishments speak for themselves, and for his dedication to Dominica.