John (left), Astaphan

Leader of the Opposition, Hector John has called on the Government of Dominica to make an office available to serve the needs of the office he currently occupies.

“Give the leader of the opposition an office so that he can make a meaningful contribution to national development,” John said in an interview with Dominica News Online (DNO), pointing to the fact that the Government of Dominica is one of the last Caribbean governments that remains reluctant to do so.

But in response Senior Counsel Tony Astaphan said in principle he has no problem with an office for the Leader of the Opposition. “But if the Opposition Leader wants to play politics with his office and continues to boycott parliament, I see no reason why the state should waste tax payers money,” Astaphan told DNO.  “It’s as simple as that.”

In the interview with DNO John complained of having to attend to foreign diplomats as well as Dominican citizens at the office of the United Workers Party (UWP). He further stated that some people, including Ministers of Government, who would have otherwise had meetings with him to discuss matters of state, are hesitant to do so out of fear of being seen heading to, or coming from the UWP office.

According to John, the Government has set aside a budget of $2,000 per month, per constituency office in Dominica – a total of 21 offices. He said the total yearly budget for maintenance of these offices is $504,000.

“Why should an office not be made available for the Leader of the Opposition, regardless of which party he belongs to, when most of the parliamentary representatives are being given offices when most also hold ministries?” he asked.