Dominica News Online (DNO) can confirm that at least three board members on the Dominica Association of Industry and Commerce (DAIC) have resigned.
Reports are that their resignations were due to dissatisfaction with the DAIC’s recent statement in response to Minister of National Security Charles Savarin’s call for Dominicans to boycott the business of OD Brisbane and Sons over letters written to Dominica’s international donors by the business’s proprietor Jerry Brisbane.
In the statement, the DAIC said “the current discord surrounding the issue of Mr. Brisbane’s letter to aid donors and the response from Minister Savarin for a boycott of OD Brisbane & Sons is a distraction from more pressing national issues. The Dominica Association of Industry and Commerce (DAIC) disassociates itself from Mr. Brisbane’s letter which, in effect, casts aspersions on Dominica’s good name among donors. The Dominica Association of Industry and Commerce (DAIC) does not believe that any Minister of Government should be calling for a boycott of any legal business establishment in Dominica. Implicit in the constitutional right to free expression is the obligation to act responsibly to avoid tarnishing the names and reputations of individuals, institutions, businesses and yes, Dominica.”
First Domestic Insurance’s Robert Tonge confirmed his resignation to DNO today, which he said has been in effect since Wednesday this week. He confirmed that the association’s statement was among reasons for his departure. He failed to expound on the matter.
“It is not in relation to that only,” he said, then added, “I am an accredited director, which means I’ve gotten training to be a director. And in addition to that, what I have learnt I practice it, and as a result of that, persons who are not trained would tend to operate slightly different than how I would operate, so that would be my primary reason for resigning.”
Burton and Company Ltd’s Trevor Burton, who also served on the association’s board of directors, told DNO that he issued his letter of resignation two days ago. He failed however to give a reason for his decision, stating that he had not yet informed the DAIC of his reasons for departure.
Reports also state that Foued Issa of Issa Trading have also resigned. His decision, according to a reliable source, was due to his discontentment with the DAIC’s statement.
Efforts to reach Issa and the head of the association have been futile but DNO will continue give updates.
In addition, one other member on the association has also reportedly resigned.
On a radio program last month hosted by Senior Counsel Anthony Astaphans with Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit joining in via the telephone, Savarin called on Dominicans to “boycott” Jerry Brisbane’s business, Brizees Mart.
“When the EU gives budgetary assistance it pays civil servants. So no civil servant can take the European Union money that is paid to government as budgetary assistance and go and bring it for Jerry Brisbane at Brizees Mart. They cannot do that. Nobody working on a Chinese-funded project can take their wages and their salaries and go and bring it for Jerry Brisbane at Brizees Mart… whether it is at Petro Caribe…west coast on the Soufriere road [or] anywhere else…”Minister Savarin had stated.
“And I believe that the people of Dominica must understand and do not respond. Here he is standing against those who are seeking to help us to develop this country. The people individually and collectively have to respond by boycotting OD Brisbane and Sons. That is my firm recommendation…” Savarin had said.
The minister’s comments came in response to Brisbane’s publication of two letters he (Brisbane) sent to donor countries and organisations raising concern over what he said was government’s decision to take a $27 million loan to build an “unnecessary” new luxury State House during times of financial crisis. Another of these letters spoke against “poor tendering practices” by the government on important infrastructural projects.
Minister Savarin also added: “I am firmly of the view that, I mean personally, nobody from my house will go to Brizees Mart and do any purchases even if the goods required are to be found only in Brizees Mart. That is a firm position where my household is concerned and that is my recommendation to the rest of Dominica.”
Brisbane’s letters were first published on Dominica News Online (DNO) in response to a previous statement from the prime minister who had accused some Dominicans of writing to donor countries asking them to stop providing funds for developmental projects around the country.
Brisbane had sought to clear his name by posting the two letters. The businessman stated that none of the letters stated that donor countries should withdraw monetary assistance from Dominica.
Brisbane, through parent company OD Brisbane & Sons, has been petitioning for the resignation of Savarin. He has set up an online petition via DNO, the first e-petition in the country. Readers are directed to the petition site, also constructed by DNO, after clicking on a paid banner advertising the petition. Petition forms have also been circulated around the country, Brisbane said.
The ruling Dominica Labour Party (DLP) has however stood by their minister, stating in a press statement released shortly after the petition, that the party “condemns” Brisbane for writing to the donor countries and that the businessman’s “actions goes well beyond what is accepted as free speech and normal party political opposition in a democratic society and is an attack on the sovereignty and political integrity of the state as well as a concerted and deliberate effort to interfere with the foreign relations of the state and undermine and sabotage the economic, infrastructural and social development as well as the employment generation efforts of the state”.
The DLP also stated: “The People of Dominica have every right to be outraged by the actions of Mr. Brisbane and in that regard the Dominica Labour Party stands by and fully endorses the statements made by the Honourable Charles Savarin on the matter and calls on the people of Dominica to similarly support the Minister in his condemnation of the actions of Jerry Brisbane acting in his capacity of Chairman of O.D. Brisbane and Sons.”
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