debtWith nation’s debt now over a billion dollars, Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, has said that there is no way small developing states like Dominica can escape being indebted.

“Madam Speaker, at the end of the financial year, June 30, 2015, total public sector disbursed outstanding debt stood at $1,047.9-million ($1,047,900,000 or 1 billion, 47 million and 900 thousand dollars), consisting of external debt of $739.3-million and domestic debt of $308.6 -million,” he said while delivering the National Budget for the financial year 2015-2016 on Friday.

He said there are people, whom he described as ‘dreamers,’ who have been making “heavy weather” of Dominica’s debt to GDP ratio.

“However, debt is relative,” the Prime Minister argued. “A small developing country like Dominica, with limited resources, cannot escape debt, because there are really only three known sources of revenue for a country. These are gifts and grants, which are now becoming scarce; taxes, levies and similar impositions, which are limited in scope and capacity; and, loans, which have to be repaid.”

He said Dominica has indeed borrowed money but it has been done in a manner that is “measured and targeted.”

“We have contracted loans under the most favourable terms and conditions available,” Skerrit said. “Anyone wishing to criticize us, should tell us whether or not the loan was necessary and how the funds could have otherwise been obtained on a timely basis.”

He said the government has honored its commitments to service loans that have been contracted.

“If this country borrowed money and repaid it, consistent with the terms and conditions of the loan, as we have, what then is the problem?” the Prime Minister queried. “Should we have stalled development or withheld services from our people, in the name of remaining debt free? I say no to such arguments! This Government is proud of its record of debt repayment. There is no entity in the region or the world today that would think twice about lending to Dominica, and that is the yardstick by which one ought to be judged.”

Skerrit insisted that the best efforts of world leaders notwithstanding, global financial and multilateral agencies, the tailwind of the economic depression which started some eight years ago, “is still evident and impactful; influencing the pace and extent to which small open economies, such as Dominica’s, can work their way back to economic safe-haven.”