My Fellow Dominicans,
We have been advised that discussions are now ongoing re the passage of a Dominica Geothermal Bill. It is of interest that no effort has been made to include the Dominica Diaspora in the process. We have only learnt of this stake holders meeting set for Thursday March 25, 2010 via an e-mail forwarded by Adenauer Douglas from a note sent by Dominican government civil servant Michael Fadelle.
In 2008 Adenauer Douglas and myself had reason to criticize our own Government for the piece meal fashion in which our resources were being bargained away in back door deals and with “secret contracts” without any assurance that the national interest of our people would be protected. Further, we were adamant then, and remain steadfast in the view today, that any legislation regarding our natural resources should ensure that our people remain in control of the commanding heights of our economy by the formation of government linked companies (GLC’s). That was the format that the successful Asian “tiger” economies such as Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia and South Korea were able to lift their peoples from backwardness and external subjugation within a generation.
A GLC is public private partnership, where the state remains the major player, with the beneficial input of private sector managerial and technological expertise. A prerequisite to the success of such an enterprise would be a National Renewable Energy Commission (NREC) of government appointed experts from the Dominican nation at home, and abroad – inclusive of non-Dominicans who are philosophically committed to the accumulation of skills and capital for our island’s development. That NREC would be the oversight body of ALL renewable energy laws – such as the proposed geothermal law – and would work to ensure that affordable energy derived income were reinvested in agriculture, education and the formation of “green” industry. Any other approach which does not place renewable energy (RE) into such a national-development centered format risks the frittering away of our resources and the continued impoverishment of the Dominican people.
We pray that all who have a role in this process can reflect on the beneficial role of the state in righting past inequities, while respecting the dynamic role of the private sector in such a partnership. A good example of the role of a NREC can be found in the famous Tennessee Valley Authority of the 1930s which industrialized a large swathe of the midwest and southeast. As this note on the TVA makes clear:
The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is a federally owned corporation in the United States created by congressional charter in May 1933 to provide navigation, flood control, electricity generation, fertilizer manufacturing, and economic development in the Tennessee Valley, a region particularly impacted by the Great Depression. The enterprise was a result of the efforts of Senator George W. Norris of Nebraska. TVA was envisioned not only as a provider, but also as a regional economic development agency that would use federal experts and electricity to rapidly modernize the region’s economy and society.
TVA’s service area covers most of Tennessee, parts of Alabama, Mississippi, and Kentucky, and small slices of Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, Indiana and Virginia. It was the first large regional planning agency of the federal government and remains the largest. Under the leadership of David Lilienthal (“Mr. TVA”), TVA became a model for America’s governmental efforts to modernize Third World agrarian societies (Wikipedia)
Again, let us put Dominica’s development first and adopt an approach which not only retains ownership of the resource in our people’s hands, but ensures the bounty derived therefrom goes into indigenous economic empowerment and growth.
We hope that the whole nation is joined in this enterprise re the proposed bill so that we can include the specifics which shall realize the objective noted herein. Such inclusion can only enhance transparency and accountability in the management of our natural resources.
A 2007 article on a proposed Alternative Energy Policy for Dominica can also be found at the Dominica Academy of Arts and Sciences at:
In the spirit of national development, we remain truly yours,
Gabriel J. Christian and Adenauer Douglas
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