Judth Pestaina

The minority Dominica Freedom Party (DFP) has responded to Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit’s presentation of the 2010/2011 national budget.

Leader of the DFP Judith Pestaina told a press conference on Friday that “one would have thought that in light of the Prime Minister’s acknowledgment that ‘these are not normal times’ we would have been presented with a budget which would have included measures to redress the challenges faced by Dominicans at all levels and in all sectors.”

She accused the Government of being bankrupt with ideas, since according to her the  economy is stagnant. She not only associates the economic downturn with the global financial crisis, but with the lack of leadership.

“We were told day after day, night after night during the election campaign that something was happening in Dominica. We were constantly reminded about ‘the next level’. Well it seems that the only things that are new in this budget are the Labour Party’s new catch phrases and buzzwords ‘the next level’ and ‘ a higher level’, which have appeared no less than 20 and 9 times respectively in the budget address to Parliament,” she said.

According to Pestaina, the budget has confirmed the well known créole saying that ‘plus sa change plus c’est la meme chose.’

“In other words, the more things change the more they remain the same. It is also very worrying that in spite of Government’s repeated boast of its ability to prudently manage the country’s finances. We now hear of increased borrowing that threatens to undermine fiscal sustainability and that Government is unable to meet its main fiscal target of a primary surplus of 3 percent in the medium term. One does not get the impression that Government has an approach to accelerate efforts to grow the economy on a sustainable basis and to create permanent employment. Rather the approach has been a regurgitation of the status quo, with no innovations and an expectation to get aid to do a few projects here and there,” she added.

She said the Prime Minister has finally “grudgingly admitted that Dominica like all other countries in the region has been affected by the global financial crisis and will continue to be affected until the anticipated turnaround in the global economy.”

“We all know that there has been a drop in tourism receipts, a decline in remittances as well as a drop in foreign direct investment. What we have seen in the budget is an overlapping of projects and programs which were provided for in last year’s budget but which have not materialized due to government’s failure and inefficiency to meet deadlines,” Pestaina added.