COMMENTARY: “No” to fiscal responsibility bill without accountability for missing $2.8 billion (part 1)

In the last month, Skerrit has been placed under increased scrutiny from the international community, and local citizens alike. The predominant question is about Skerrit’s alleged collaboration in the abduction of Mehul Choksi, an Antiguan CBI citizen, and the unfolding mystery surrounding Choksi’s entry into Dominica, against his will. As an avenue for respite, Skerrit mandated the religious Church community to dedicate three (3) days, Friday 25th June to Sunday 27th June, 2021 for unity prayers and fasting. By Monday 28th June, Skerrit was heading to Parliament, sounding “wickeder than before”, with a Bill captioned “Fiscal Responsibility Framework” (FRF) Bill. It would have been dubbed an “April Fool’s” joke if the calendar did not register that the date was 28th June, and if the origin of the Bill was not the Ministry of Justice, Immigration and National Security.

Skerrit’s current anxiety to present to Parliament the FRF Bill, is largely due to pressures emanating from joint IMF/ECCB for the massive decline in the country’s fiscal health, resulting from expanded budget deficit and higher debt. How strategically deceitful could a leader be! In one week, the Minister of Finance held a huge public relations stunt, to announce the signing of a $1.0 Billion contract, without Parliamentary approval. This Contract will invariably subject the economy/citizens to an untenable debt burden. Two (2) weeks thereafter, the same Minister of Finance is submitting for Parliamentary approval, an FRF model for the economy to “attain a sustainable level of debt”.

Citizens of Dominica have been largely unanimous in condemnation of Skerrit for assigning a subordinate to sign a Contract of $1.0 Billion for the proposed construction of an international airport, without Parliamentary approval. Notwithstanding, Skerrit figured he could slide through a draconian Bill, with no consultation with various public sector workers’ associations. It is estimated that this Bill will have dire consequences for public servants in earning an income sufficient to maintain their families.

We have reached a time in our history when fiscal responsibility is the buzz-word for prudent management of the economies, especially in the Caribbean, that are in a bad shape. For instance, in January 2020, government of St. Vincent and The Grenadines (SVG) submitted to its Parliament a “Fiscal Responsibility Framework”. The preamble to the Act, says, “It is aimed at establishing the principles and procedures of responsible fiscal management, and to facilitate effective Parliamentary oversight and public scrutiny of the fiscal performance of the government”.

In June 2021, the Skerrit regime placed on the Order Paper, “Fiscal Responsibility Framework” Bill. The preamble to Bill says, “An Act to establish a transparent and accountable rule-based fiscal responsibility framework in Dominica, to guide and anchor fiscal policy during the Budget process to ensure that government finances are sustainable, over the short, medium and long term, consistent with a sustainable level of debt and for other related matters”.

Please note Skerrit’s FRF Bill, makes no reference to “Parliamentary Oversight” or “Public Scrutiny”. This is deliberate and deceitful. The preamble mentions the word “transparency” and “accountable” as if in jest. The presentation of the Bill for debate in Parliament comes against a background/track record of Skerrit’s regime steadfast refusal to account for moneys missing from the Consolidated Fund. The fact that Skerrit is attempting to push through a legislative framework for Fiscal Responsibility to Parliament, one month before the appointed date of the Annual Budget, is the ultimate signal of disaster. The economy is on the brink of collapse, under the weight of at least $2.8 Billion missing from Dominica’s Treasury, under Skerrit’s watch. Furthermore, Skerrit model of FRF is set against a background/track-record of signing a Contract of $1.0 Billion for proposed construction of an international airport, without public scrutiny.

Thomas Letang of Public Service Union (PSU) was swift in taking an assertive position, to denounce the Bill, and calling out public servants to be present at the House of Assembly, in protest gear, to defend their livelihoods. For the millionth time, we listened to Lennox Linton, with an immediate eloquent rebuttal of the misinformation and fake analysis that Skerrit was offering as justification for imposition of a draconian Bill on public servants. Lennox Linton made a public pledge to go back to Parliament to defend public servants in the face of Skerrit’s financial abuse on the economy and people of Dominica.

A critical feature of any Fiscal Responsibility Framework model is the elimination of “non-priority expenditure”. In June 2020, at a time when COVID-19 was having its biggest impact on the economy, resulting in reduced national income, Skerrit twisted the hands on his Cabinet to approve a housing allowance, equivalent to $64,000.00 per month to cover rent and maintenance expenses, to be paid to Anthony Hayden, CEO of Mercury Ltd and owner of the palatial mansions in which Skerrit now resides, as his official Prime Ministerial Residence.

At the same time, Skerrit is endeavoring to put added pressure on Public Servants to earn a decent living, he has created new opportunities for gainful employment for his former colleagues in the previous administration. Skerrit has used the pandemic as an excuse for fiscally reckless spending aimed at rewarding his Party’s most dedicated supporters, and enticing voters with various forms of hand outs through Christmas and Easter hampers. Through this FRF model, Skerrit has erased all doubts that “fiscal recklessness” is his modus operandi, and persistent poverty is his ultimate agenda for Dominica’s citizens.

It is not enough that government should confine the FRF model to weeding out wastage in the public service, and disregarding the opportunities for development and growth of the economy. With the abundance of water, and the well-established cultural practices in production of cannabis, Skerrit is still incapable to conceptualize a viable industry that could emerge from these two (2) products.  To do so would create a large pool of independent citizens, earning adequate incomes to sustain their families. Instead, in his delusional state, Skerrit is seeking to showcase Dominica as having a comparative advantage in sale of passports, by virtue of its price at US$50,000.00 per family.

Skerrit lacks both the legal and moral authority to be the architect of a “fiscal responsibility framework” in today’s Dominica. He should never be allowed to legislate an FRF model that circumvents his current obligation to account for $2.8 Billion missing from the Consolidated Fund.

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29 Comments

  1. Lin clown
    July 13, 2021

    JackA IBO we already know the financial state of the country.After Maria you REJOICED and said the population of Dominica was 30,000.Today the population is 72,000 if the financial state is so bad,why did 42,000 return after only 4 years?You said Dominica would NEVER be rebuilt before 20 years.After 4 years,according to the TRAFFIC DEPT.Dominica has 37,000 registered vehicles out of a population of 72,000,a place YOU said people were POOR,HUNGRY and STARVING.WICKED LIARS.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 1 Thumb down 8
  2. Lin clown
    July 13, 2021

    KID,that is the problem with UWP they keep their supporters in the dark,while you educate them and,that is a problem for DNO.Sec 72(2)(c)the DPP can DISCONTINUE any criminal matter at anytime BEFORE JUDGEMENT.And UWP cannot APPEAL because sec 72(4) say so.This was no PRIVATE CRIMINAL MATTER,it was a political matter brought by UWP disguised as a private matter,and the DPP know that……………………………………..That is why awaiting moderation was put in place to deny DNO readers the truth.The fact is UWP is a DEAD party and can NEVER win another election in Dominica.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 1 Thumb down 8
    • Red Hyenas
      July 18, 2021

      Look at those 2 excited DLP canines Clown and Kid. They can’t handle the truth. The excitement forced them to lift one of their hind legs and spray red propaganda juice all ver the place.

  3. KID ON THE BLOCK
    July 12, 2021

    Sir show us the evidience of how you arrived at that figure. 2.8 billion! eg. 2 xA=4. Let 4 represent the 2.8 billion. What is A?Be it by Algebra, Geometry, or plain Mathamatics. Give us the equation that equals to 2.8 billions. We need to see the calculation that we may be convinced.
    Looks like you are doing just like the INCITER IN CHIEF! Pull out a calculator and what comes in your head does fine since you think your brainless supporters will act on. If you can’t come up with the solution to prove your case, you should stop your BS.
    Because, All one can see is the level of jealousy and hatred and dishonesty you have in your heart towards another person. YOU ALL are trying your utmost to gain power as if YOU ALL will do better. The power is the Dominican People; don’t you think if the PEOPLE saw YOU ALL were fit to be given that POWER , THEY would have given that mandate to you all? Just think of it, 18 to 3 out of 21.
    Sir, stop following UNCLE with his phanthasy.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 2 Thumb down 20
    • Grow Up Kid
      July 13, 2021

      Honestly, sometimes you just need to shut the hell up!!! If your dam bread is well buttered by the DLP (and I suspect it is) then that is you.

      Let the people that are in the kitchen feeling the heat talk and stay in your dam lane!!

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1
  4. The Truth Be Told
    July 12, 2021

    Ulric, are you Mr. Txx?
    You sound like him, continuing where your madame left out.
    I dare bring out a Financial Statement to back up your claim. Not repeating something with no facts at all. Ulric do you think all persons are ignorant and though you feel superior in your actions, cannot come to grips with your childhood days. Think back, get yourself back on track with your high-handed looking down on your people.
    See a doctor thinks that Haiti needs him to be PM / President and see what he does. Chaos & more misery. All he had to do was work with the administration to help alleviate but as you can see it is all about selfish me & I will do anything (hating the PM, etc) to gain power for who is he? I am the one who has gone overseas (UK/ USA) to those prestigious universities/colleges. It cannot be anyone else but me. I will support anyone who is against them. If we succeed, my arrogance will try to be in leadership for I am the one. Remember school days. Come down

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 3 Thumb down 15
    • Truth Be Told
      July 13, 2021

      The Truth Be Told, why do you use this name when you are so afraid of the Truth! You do not deal in Truth so why use this name? You need to educate yourself so that you may be able to discern facts from fiction! Dominica is economically and financially bankrupt thanks to Skerrit. Everyone afraid to buy those National Bank shares while all foreign banks running away because Dominica economy dead! Ross University gone and so did 35 – 40% Dominica GDP go with it! Everywhere in Dominica business closing down except those Government CBI funded businesses and China operations! Open your eyes and ears to the Truth!

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2
  5. Pipo
    July 12, 2021

    Our consumption consists largely of imports, which have to be paid for in hard currency, mostly U.S. dollars.I doubt Dominica has the necessary reserves onshore to cover this. Our GDP may grow because of major structural projects but relatively little of that flows into our treasury, exacerbated by duty-free concessions and long term tax holidays for investors, particularly in the hospitality industry, who are free to move their profits offshore.Already, hotel prices and real estate are quoted in U.S. dollars. What does that mean for the E.C. dollar in which our local populace is paid and government settles its internal bills? Will we end up like Cuba, and the Soviet Union before them, where imported luxury- and essential goods are only available in hard currency (read U.S. dollar) shops?

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0
  6. VereTere
    July 12, 2021

    Outstanding commentary! We need accountability, Skerrit needs to account for the missing 2.8 billion and he needs to explain to the country what the story is with Choksi. If he refuses to comply we need to make him resign. Full stop, no if or but! Furthermore we need to stop him from introducing this FRF bill because it would allow him to take up even more debt in the long run while the citizen are going to starve. It must be clear by now, even to the most hardened DLP supporter, that this man is a liability and he is not willing to serve the country but rather himself and his cronies.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 2
  7. Viewsexpressed
    July 12, 2021

    This is a wonderful commentary well designed and researched that All of our people in and out of Government are well informed and knowledgeable of the obvious likely false and failure and abuse of the Peoples’ Hard earned States Funds. This is the worse Labour government and most despicable Leadership we are witnessing in our Nature Island.
    Dominica needs a quick change of Decency Respect in our Government and reputable, transparency Leadership before we go down further in this cesspit of FAILED SKERRIT’s leadership, management and Incompetent FAILED Labour GOVERNMENT.
    This is the message to All DOMINICANS, to open their EYES 👀 Ears and Knowledge of the destruction and poverty of our Suffering Begging Struggling People under this FAILED INCOMPETENT IMMATURE PRIME MINISTER Skerrit. Its time that is this failed incompetent Skerrit gets the Hell Out of our Government.
    For Honesty, Professionalism, Decency and Togetherness towards meaningful development, we welcome UWP Hon.LINTON as…

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 3
  8. Ibo France
    July 11, 2021

    The entire population of Dominica should demand to know the true status of the financial state of the country. This isn’t someone’s personal business. This public has a right to know. It’s their money.

    What’s the exact figure of the national debt? The citizens demand to know since every citizen has to repay it even generations yet unborn.

    Why does Dominica have the biggest number of Cabinet Ministers per capita in the world? This is putting tremendous strain on the treasury.

    By the way, we have a ghost minister in government, Melissa Skerrit. She has no portfolio. What does she do? Why does she collect a big, fat government cheque at the end of every month? The lady is just like a fine ant on the finances of the state., gnawing it away.

    We have to stand up collectively for transparency and accountability. otherwise one day we will wake up and find the treasury completely empty like the airport fund.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 3
  9. %
    July 11, 2021

    By now most Dominicans should know that liar Skerrit, a desperately deceiptful creature, has plunged the country into economic chaos, while the greedy enjoys EC$64000.00 a month from the public purse…He stutters about his fine economic prudence management style of the country, but the majority are sucking salt. That’s the hallmark of a liar, who is heartless and wicked. He still can’t give proper accounting for billions of our CBI funds, but he wants to put a cap on public servants salary increases!!! Liar Skerrit, why not do way with some of the useless ministers?? Why can’t liar Skerrit and the other 17 MISLEADERS, take a cut in their salaries???

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 3
  10. Tricks
    July 11, 2021

    As if all these issues listed above is not enough, remember that now in this ultra-weak and derelict economy, they want to raise the minimum wages. While I am all for raising the minimum wages, that exercise should be carried out in a strong economy. Imagine all these shops that are not selling much will have to pay their workers more, in order to cover this extra cost they must raise prices, or heaven forbid, fire people. If prices are raised, where does the low waged worker get the extra money to accommodate these price hikes. If the shops decide to fire people, or close their stores, the economy will be impacted negatively by either action.
    This government appears to make these whimsical policies and decisions without enough and proper forethought, and research. It appears that this minimum wage hike is a propaganda ploy with no acknowledgement to the results. Results that will further impoverish the people, rather than enrich them as they are trying to trick you into believing.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 3
  11. BobD
    July 11, 2021

    The writer comes off as having a personal vendetta “beef” with the Dominican leader.Personal political HATE, it seems, have been the fabric Dominica is clothed with. Then again, a country is endowed with the Leadership it deserves in any epoch and Mr Peter should be sensitive to the issue he is raising. Fiscal responsibility is a subject that emanates from the Home to Gov’t, and in most cases, it is also the demise of both. Dominica have had a history of disparaging the leaders that have showed some mettle, plantation/colonial democracy , crabs in DE barrel winner take all policy, is the EVIL Mr Peter should be penning about. Being partisan really limits the intellect, one’s truth is all that matters as he settles in the Darkness of his thoughts. The writer must know that balance is “toute baghai”.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 3 Thumb down 30
    • Party Policy
      July 12, 2021

      Who hasn’t, apart from the members of the cabal and his stupid disciples. You clearly are a member of either one or god forbid both even…

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 0
    • Ibo France
      July 12, 2021

      Even you don’t understand what you have written here. Not too sure your mental faculty is fully intact.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 2
    • July 12, 2021

      Bob D and Ibo France have a personal vendetta with Skerrit. From 1.2 billion to now 2.8 billion. They both crave for the CBI monies and it is rightly beyond their reach. Each time I will pound into your ears that Lennox Linton will never be the PM of Dominica. Not on this earth, not on the next one and, the one after. Bob D and Ibo France get a life and take a trip to France.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 3 Thumb down 19
      • Ibo France
        July 13, 2021

        @ds
        Only God knows the future. You are not omniscient, no human being is. Lennox Linton would make a far superior leader to the imbecile who’s presently squatting in the office of prime minister.

        Mr. Linton is erudite, articulate, visionary, approachable, decent, assertive, compassionate and tactful. Mr. Skerrit possesses none of these attributes. It will take Mr. Linton, as leader, surrounded by Dominica’s best and brightest to pull the country out of the malaise and economic sinkhole it is presently in. Dominica will languish at the ground position in the Eastern Caribbean with a fatuous ‘I-man’ in charge.

        Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1
        • July 13, 2021

          All these adjectives to describe the jack of all trade and you left out school drop out. Foolish Pride will only bring you emptiness, foolish pride will not bring you happiness, only play and just. Next election it will be 21-0. Let us see the articulate man set up roadblocks everywhere and huff and puff and say the election was stolen once again. Another Donald Trump.

          Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 0 Thumb down 9
      • July 13, 2021

        I did not mean Bob. Sorry. I meant % who is just one-tenth of a percent. Another frustrated man.

    • Toto
      July 12, 2021

      Bob why you always so bitter man. Reading your posts is like drinking sour milk, nothing appetising about it. Live is for living and it never too late to start.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0
  12. Watching
    July 11, 2021

    Skerrit is boss and the people clap even when he belch..is allu that put him dere take what allu get

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 2
    • Toto
      July 12, 2021

      Yes so, and when he farts they swoon in heavenly scent. Black is white, blue is red and Father Christmas really exist.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0
  13. Breseis
    July 11, 2021

    Excellent article. I could not say it better. It seems persistent poverty is the order of the day

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 2
  14. Lin clown
    July 11, 2021

    ULRIC,fiscal responsibility bill WILL be passed and there is nothing YOU,LINTON or THOMAS BALLS LETANG can do.You are constantly posting comments after the facts.In Dominica majority rules and DLP is in the majority by 7,219 votes.Post about the EMBARRASSMENT inflicted on the lazy lying UWP by the DPP.The people are so ignornant sec,72(2)(c) of the constitution,the DPP has the power to discontinue at ANY STAGE BEFORE JUDGEMENT IS DELIVERED any such CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS instituted or undertaken by himself or any other person or authority.Sec 72 (4) the powers conferred on the DPP by paragraph(b) and(c) of subsection(2) of this section shall be vested in him to the EXCLUSION of any other person or AUTHORITY.You cannot fool the Dominican people with that BS about $2.8 billion,$1.2 billion or $64,000.You should come with something to prevent UWP from getting a 20-1beating in the next election.(OFF TOPIC AWAITING MODERATION)Only for supporters of Roosevelt Skerrit and DLP.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 3 Thumb down 33
    • VereTere
      July 12, 2021

      What’s your real name, Clown? I have a feeling it’s Reginald Austrie? The reason I think so, he is quite capable of writing nonsense like that and he isn’t the sharpest tool in the box either (see the poor command of the queens English). Come Reggie, stop hiding.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 1
  15. Ibo France
    July 11, 2021

    DNO, this is the kind of weekly or even bi-weekly editorial the public yearns for from you. it doesn’t have to always be political just enlightening. Your readers and the public in general will be better served.

    Don’t reply by putting the onus on me. I make my sterling contributions in other ways.

    ADMIN: This is a commentary that was submitted to us.

    Point taken, for the time being, we make our contribution by being an open forum.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 3
    • Ibo France
      July 12, 2021

      Yes DNO. You make your contribution by giving a voice to the voiceless, no dispute about that. But you can do better.

      As I’ve said before the news media should make good use of the significant social influence that it has. Your news organization has failed to adequately inform, educate and enlighten the citizenry to bring a sufficient awareness to the pertinent and pressing issues affecting the country. You can also add some workable or possible solutions to these perennial issues.

      No ill-will just trying to get you to improve for the betterment of the country. That’s all.

  16. Ibo France
    July 11, 2021

    A great read indeed- very enlightening!! This commentary is loaded with sound facts that cannot be refuted.

    Any bill brought to parliament by this Skerrit-DLP led scandal plagued maladministration is either geared to personally further enrich the ruling cabal or further impoverish the working poor.

    I have posited this question on this very forum numerous times. How can a person (Mr. Skerrit) who has ABSOLUTELY no formal training/classes/education in fiscal matters, economics, accounting be an effective Minister of Finance?

    Mr. Skerrit’s expertise lies in LIES. That may be the only thing he’s expertly good at. For this man to be the head of government in these uncertain and turbulent economic times and be successful is simply inconceivable.

    For Dominica to achieve sound fiscal health, we need a leader of sound moral standing, one who has mental acuity, articulate and selfless. Unfortunately for Dominicans, Mr. Skerrit possesses none of these.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 3

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