Dominica Freedom Party statement in response to the 20/21 Budget Address

DFP leader, Kent Vital

On July 28th 2020 the Prime minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica gave the customary budget address in parliament in relation to the national budget.  He presented the budget for fiscal year commencing July 2020 and ending June 2021 (FY20/21), under the theme – the road to dynamic Dominica; fostering economic resilience.


Lack of reporting on sustainable development outcomes

In most of the Prime Minister’s 16 previous budget presentations, he may have used “good words”; but the policies and strategies herein – when judged a year or more after, largely failed to propel the country forwards towards desirable sustainable development outcomes. This 2020/21 budget appears to be similar to the failed previous budgets in term of the rhetoric and expected results. The annual national budget should be a tool for implementing the nation’s medium-term strategic development plan that ideally should be connected to a long-term vision. That vision must essentially be about improving the quality of life of the people and future generations to which there are three contributing inter-related and inter-dependent dimensions – the economic, the social and the environmental dimensions. Hence a good budget must contemplate funding allocations towards policies, strategies and programmes that will push the country towards greater achievement of its sustainable development objectives. In that context, the 2020/21 budget address, while it indicates outputs (example hospital and health centres built) achieved during the previous fiscal year 2019/20,  does not make the connection to how all the various outputs from previous years contribute to the development outcome desired and in that regard, the budget address provides no objective indicators of progress.  Likewise, new proposals for the upcoming fiscal year must be in the context of the kind of development outcomes desired to be achieved.  Several questions can be posed in that regard related to the desired development outcomes.  What has been the country’s progress in reducing poverty and unemployment? Has real per-capita income (a measure of the standard of living) increased?  Are our people enjoying living in our country as may be expressed by indicators of the level of crime and participation in community activities, among other indicators of social connectedness and well-being?  Is the physical health of our people improving as may be expressed by life-expectancy, morbidity and mortality indicators?  Is the tertiary education of our young people redounding to the progress of the economy?Is our natural environment adequately managed so that its use as a basis for sustaining the generation of income is optimized while preserving and enhancing the enjoyment by our people? Pursuing those kinds of outcomes is what budgeting should ultimately be about.  We have to judge the success of successive annual national budgets against the degree to which they result in such progress. But this 2020/21 budget presentation, like many previous budget presentations, woefully lacks reporting on outcomes achieved and that are being pursued. There could be several reasons for such lack, including; the administration’s lack of understanding of the basis for effective planning and budgeting; the administration deliberately not reporting on outcomes given that the indicators are not flattering; the administration’s continued push to manage the country in their own self-interest with brazen displays of extreme corruption which make it impossible to pursue effective planning and budgeting.


Excuses for failure

Having set that foundation, it is clear that the current political regime is out of their depth and have merely thrown out a bunch of nice-sounding words to deceive the public.  To begin with, they continue to make excuses for Dominica’s lack of progress, even though they have not reported on the indicators of progress. Over the last decade and more, the regime has moved from blaming the 2008 financial crisis to blaming Tropical Storm Erica, then Hurricane Maria and now the COVID-19 Pandemic. Of course, these external shocks to our economy are real, but it is the regime’s failure at economic management and governance in general that has led the country to a point of extreme low resilience.  For instance, the administration had ample time and opportunity to put in place a reserve fund for addressing unforeseen circumstances and for saving towards undertaking critical but costly infrastructure, but they did not have the foresight to do so and they were motivated by re-election considerations rather than by the interest of the country. Such a fund would have allowed the country to deal with extreme climate events and other unforeseen events. The use of such a fund to finance critical infrastructure such as the international airport would have made the country more internationally competitive, make its people more prosperous and ultimately result in greater fiscal capacity. A more prosperous country with reserves set aside would have been better able to deal with all the shocks to the economy that the current ruling regime so eagerly embraces as an excuse to mask their massive failure.


Misleading use of data

In the 2020/21 budget presentation, the Prime Ministerusesthe International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) GDP growth projections figure for Dominica to say that prior to the COVID-19 pandemic that the government was doing extremely well.  He indicated that in January 2020, the IMF forecasted that the Dominica economy was set to expand by, 5.5%, 4.5% and 3.6%, for the years 2020, 2021 and 2022 respectively. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the IMF has revised its projection to negative growth for 2020. But to conclude that Dominica was doing well based on what the IMF said prior to the COVID-19 crisis is the furthest thing from the truth. First, the IMF’s growth projections would have been against the backdrop of a weak economy reeling from the loss of Ross University, and the impact of Hurricane Maria. In agriculture, we are only recovering to a prior weak state. Imagine how it sounds to someone who does not understand or know of the true situation when the government boasts that export of bananas and agricultural output, in general, has recovered to pre-Maria levels as appeared in an international publication. Maybe it did, but the level it recovered to was a low one and there needed to be creative policies to grow the sector and make it vibrant prior to the impact of Hurricane Maria.The recovery of output to pre-Maria levels is not a feat or something to boast about. Clearly, the government is engaging in trickery to make it look as if the country is doing well. Secondly, the level of economic growth projected by the IMF was possible only if the CBI inflows continued. Prior to the December 2019 general elections, the DFP had warned that CBI inflows would decline and as a result the economy would be devastated as CBI revenue was the only significant thing supporting the economy after the loss of Ross University.  We notice from the figures presented by the PM that our prediction was accurate. Indeed,CBI receipts declined significantly and chances are that they may continue to fall in succeeding years – due largely to the corrupt management of the CBI programme by the current political regime. The regime knew that the CBI flows were in trouble, but the IMF may not have been aware of the specifics or the degree of the risk at the time of their January 2020 projections. The IMF had on previous occasions raised concerns over the uncertainty of CBI flows. That risk is clearly coming to past.

Even if the COVID-19 crisis had not occurred, the economy of Dominica would have shrunk with the loss of CBI revenues. If CBI flows continued at 2018 levels, economic growth could have been sustained – through public sector funded construction, continued construction of CBI funded hotel projects and a COVID-19 stimulus package that would have prevented significant private sector deterioration. Further, greater growth could have been sparked if the CBI funds were used to prepare the country to become internationally competitive and to be better positioned to take off once the pandemic has been overcome.  Additionally, had $1.2 billion of CBI flows not been misappropriated, there would have been adequate fiscal reserves to sustain the growth of the economy during this COVID-19 crisis years and to enhance its international competitiveness.

Indeed COVID-19 is sparking a massive global economic crisis.  Many of our tourism-dependent Caribbean neighbours will be greatly affected.  Dominica will also be affected, but the Dominica economy was already on the brink of collapse; it just got worse given COVID-19 and the ensuing global economic crisis. Sadly, COVID-19 is an excuse that the ruling regime embraces.

Addressing the challenges that the country was already faced with prior to the COVID-19 crisis, and on top of that addressing the challenges brought on by COVID-19, requires a government that is capable and creative, one that has integrity and legitimacy to govern- which is critical in uniting the country and using all its talents. The ruling regime has none of that.


International Airport

At this point let address the PM’sstated intention to commence activity on the international airport.  First, given the many times that the Skerrit-led administration had indicated that the construction of the international airport was imminent, this time around we will wait to see to believe. But notice the weak indications in the budget of Government’s seriousness on this matter.  The PM indicated that the properties to be purchased are worth $50.7 million, yet there was little budgetary allowance for this and the impression is this project is imminent! This surely looks like a smokescreen and we will look out for future excuses.

However, the construction of an international airport at this point in time would be a good thing for Dominica and all political parties support that idea.  Even if the current administration is actually going to construct the airport this time around, they should not gloat over that since the airport should have already been constructed or construction should have been well on its way if funds that the regime indicated that it had set aside for that purpose were used as intended.

Moreover, the PM indicated that it is the intention for the Chinese to construct the airport; but this must be viewed very suspiciously by the people of Dominica. Fellow Dominicans we must not sell out our country to China.  The Chinese are looking out for their own people, which would be expected; but so too, the government of Dominica should be looking out for the welfare of its people. Yet, the 2020/21 budget address does not contain much details in relation to the engagement of the People’s Republic of China regarding the construction of the airport. Will the Chinese be funding the airport construction in addition to constructing it? If so, under what terms and conditions will the financing be provided? Certainly, if the PM were serious, such simple details, among others would have been provided.

As a Dominican people, we must insist on total transparency when it comes to allowing the Chinese to finance and construct the international airport. If loan financing is involved, what exactly are the conditions to the loan? Will, it cost Dominica more to allow the Chinese to finance and construct the airport versus other options? Will our people find work through the construction of the airport or will much of the effort be undertaken by Chinese labourers? If the country cannot repay China, then what would be the consequences? Would control of the airport switch over to China if Dominica can’t repay the loan? There is indeed a great likelihood of that given the weak economic leadership of the country by the current regime. We have heard of the experience of other developing countries when they can’t repay loans from China with some disturbing cases involving the underlying asset passing over to the control of China as a result.People of Dominica, we must never accept Chinese colonialism or be subjugated to any other country; we must remain an independent people.


Misappropriation of funds

It should be noted that the Dominica Freedom Party has concerns over whether Dominica got good value for money with respect to the construction of the Roseau River Promenade to include a river wall.  The project was reported in the budget address to have costed$15.6 million.  By comparison, the defence river wall and road defence work undertaken west of Layou bridge (a seemingly more complicated engineering project compared to the Roseau promenade project) costed $5.7 million and was funded by the Caribbean Development Bank. The Dominica Freedom Party will seek further clarification of this seemingly overpriced Promenade.


Budgetary proposals

Facilitating a dynamic Dominica and fostering economic resilience is not just about addressing the direct policies as may be reflected in plans at the sector level, but it is also about addressing the root causes of failure to achieve development outcomes and such root causes cuts across the whole of government and affect its effectiveness. For instance, Dominica will never have adequate finances to make our infrastructure truly resilient if, a good portion of the funds are misappropriated. Furthermore, achievement of outcomes will continue to be less than desired if political considerations keep preventing the hiring of the right people and if existing civil servants are not motivated to perform optimally given the lack of effective political leadership. Additionally, the government won’t be able to raise adequate revenue if investors have no trust in the integrity and capability of the country’s leadership. Such constraints will never be reflected in a budget address by the PM that lacks integrity, but they are among the real issues that keep our country from making great progress.

The Public Sector Investment Programme out-turn of $158.6 million for fiscal year 2019/20 was significantly lower than the $389.4 million for the previous fiscal year. The reason for that appears to be the corresponding decline in non-tax revenue which is dominated by receipts under the CBI programme.  Yet the PM appears to deceitfully explain that such decline is due to slower work output as a result of COVID-19 social distancing requirement. Clearly the ruling regime is withholding the truth as it related to likely receipts under the CBI programme. There is great doubt that the projection of non-tax revenue receipts (mostly CBI receipts) of $330.5 million for budget year 2020/21 compared to actual receipts of $171.0 million during FY 2019/20, would be attained given the challenges being experienced with the CBI programme that resulted in the lower receipts in FY2019/20.  Much of this challenge has to do with banking challenges related to concerns with the integrity of the CBI programme. Yet the PM is not offering any explanations of the decline in CBI receipts during FY2019/20 but goes on to project a rebound in receipts during budget year 2020/21. It is clear to the Dominica Freedom Party that the government knows that receipts under the CBI may fall further, but they seem intent on deceiving the people. Chances are that they are already concocting an excuse that they will give to the people once it becomes clear to the people that the government can’t fulfil its promises.

Moreover, recurrent spending for FY2020/21is is projected to decline.  Based on the government’s spendthrift approach when they were washed with CBI receipts, they would have never allowed a decline in recurrent spending if they were confident in receiving the level of CBI receipts they have projected.  Prior to the 2019 general elections, the DFP had warned that the government would be forced to cut expenditure, but not because they want to do so, or because they are prudent! It is because they knew that the CBI receipts will continue to decline and a point could be reached where the programme could be essentially lost if the EU takes measures to protect its security. The regime continues to be aware of those risks but they are pretending that all is well, while finetuning excuses to be used at the appropriate time.  But it is likely that recurrent spending during the fiscal year could fall much more significantly than the budget projections currently show.

Unless there are significant CBI receipts or grants receipts, the capital expenditure programme for the 2020/21 budget year could be even lower than the actual expenditure in the previous year.  Therefore, the government’s plan for stimulating the economy through infrastructure is likely to fail and unfortunately, the current corrupt government has no robust alternative financing options!


Other specific proposals

Some of the specific proposals contained in the budget presentation are ok in themselves. In relation to these, the real issues are, whether the government can secure adequate financing; whether there are adequate mechanisms in place for effective implementation;  whether the right staffing is in place; whether existing civil servants are adequately motivated; the way in which partisan politics causes even projects that can be good ones to fail; and the general lack of confidence in the current regime. Some of the specific proposals offer little to bring real change, though they appear on the surface to give people something.

The truth is that our country needs to be saved from the ruling regime that holds power illegitimately and are clearly out of their comfort zone. We warn that our country is headed to a great disaster and that the bad governance of the Skerrit-led administration will make it worst. Let us seek God for our deliverance.

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  1. click here
    August 4, 2020

    Read this article twice, and it actually makes sense. I believe he knows what he is speaking about. The irony is that noone knows what else 2020 will throw at us. Again our economy isnt doing well, whether is because of Skerrit or Maria, or COVID. The budget must address our advancement. I heard and read a lot of pie in the sky. alot of repeated promises. nothing is perfect. i just pray one day we overcome and begin to enjoy a better quality of life with peace and safety at an affordable price.

  2. Lin clown
    August 1, 2020

    This CROOKED TRAITOROUS IDIOT,think this budget was put together by fools?The smartest and most educated brain in the land put this budget together COONU.No name mentioned.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 8 Thumb down 18
  3. ????????????????
    July 31, 2020

    But people and Mr. Vital what is a budget? A budget is not the actual thing. Perhaps we need to get some actual figures. A Budget is an estimate and throughout the year in question, the amount may or may not be used. Why do you all try to get the population confused? Mr. Vital do your homework first and come back. There are so many articles with most of the information (indicators – GDP etc) you asked about. Do some research as there are so many articles.

    Loan forgiveness and what it means.
    Loan forgiveness means that you don’t have to pay back the portion of the loan that is forgiven. Now most of you telling the people that the PM used the money that Venezuela forgave. Really to get into government, act ignorant with such a statement. Whoever forgives money the person owes & gives them the same amount back? Garcon behave cour zort. Get knowledgeable about things you do not understand and then come better. Although you made a better presentation than the…

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  4. Sybil nowell
    July 31, 2020

    Boy when did you wake up . It is best you join your friends on the other side you will have more chance honestly.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 11 Thumb down 19
  5. Da Girl
    July 31, 2020

    So admin I posted a comment since this morning, along with a follow up inquiring about my first post and both still MIA?

    ADMIN: Please see our earlier response about the time it takes (usually within 24 hours) to moderate and approve comments.

  6. Joseph John
    July 31, 2020

    An annual budget is an estimation of the amount you plan to spend for a particular year. A government budget facilitate the execution of the policies or plan that Cabinet has decided to implement. The budget seek to obtain the constitutional approval of Parliament for the maximum to be spent for the year/term in question. It contains public information on the plans, programmes, and spending the government intends to spend for the term in question.
    No one can foresee the future so for emergency spending or overspending there can be supplementary estimates.
    What is missing is an accountable process in which reports are presented to ensure that budgetary promises are kept and that money is not misappropriated.
    You cannot expect the government to police itself effectively, there fore the Public Accounts Committee must be proactive in examination and annual report on expenditure vis a vis the estimates.
    Elaborate political criticizing without data is just showboating.-

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    • EJ Thomas
      August 1, 2020

      Mr. Joseph John:
      My response here is not in direct response to the article, you wrote, above which is balanced, informative and shows good critical thinking on the subject matter.
      Thank You! Thank You! Thank You! You are always so appropriate in your statements. I highly appreciate the comments and empathy posted by you to my somber 1979 story – in part enlightening, I hope – published July 19th on DNO. It was a year Dominicans turned Demonicans. Overall, God according to you is in control. Thanks again.

    • click here
      August 6, 2020

      Is the PM’s rent and accompanied expenses with his new living situation included in the budget?

  7. Ti Garcon
    July 31, 2020

    Kent Vital for the past couple months has been writing letters telling farmers and landowners not to sell their lands, particularly to foreigners. Because, he says when Freedom comes in office there’ll be great investments to benefit agriculture, agro- tourism, and eco-tourism.
    He is now suddenly in agreement for Wesley/ Woodfordhill farmers, to sell 3000-4000 acres of the best farmland in Dominica for a white elephant project. A project that will be financed, and eventually to be controlled by the Chinese gov’t. Isn’t he aware of Chinese takeovers of critical port facilities in Sri Lanka and Kenya? 5-10 years from now what will these farmers do for a living, what assets can they leave for their families?
    Let me guess, he thinks Dominicans adore the international airport idea, so he blindly agree as to not get a backlash. Well a man with no strong convictions or spine has no right being a leader of any organization, let alone a country.

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  8. Ibo France
    July 31, 2020

    My comments will be somewhat off topic. I heard a discussion earlier on a radio station which made me wonder why Dominicans so like to major in minor things.

    The discussion was about who is the lesser of the two evils, the immediate former Speaker of parliament or the present one. Both of these people are totally unfit for that very significant position as the laws and bills that are passed in this August body affect all of our lives in a profound way.

    Instead of decrying the hostile and despicable conduct displayed by parliamentarians on the governing benches, and the biased and asinine behavior and utterances of this reprehensible new Speaker. Stop the discussion of pettiness as we are living in serious, perilous times.

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  9. Ti Garcon
    July 31, 2020

    “However, the construction of an international airport at this point in time would be a good thing for Dominica and all political parties support that idea.”

    You sir, are a clown. You talk about Agriculture, but are supporting Skerrit buying out the best and most productive farm area in Dominica to construct a white elephant. Even Dame Eugenia refused to build an airport in the area because it would destroy Dominica’s agriculture sector. Dude, quit politics because you are way over your head. The Wesley/Woodfordhill area Skerrit says he wants to buy out has the most fertile and flattest land in Dominica. What Agricultural sector or self sufficient society can we have if we take near 30% of our arable land for a white elephant project?
    You say all parties agree to the international airport- I’ll tell you the majority of Dominicans don’t travel and won’t pay increased taxes to maintain such an airport. St Vincent is paying 20% VAT for a handful of extra flights. You’re an…

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  10. lol
    July 31, 2020

    Why Kent vital dose not get in his head that there is no more freedom party.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 13
    • Ma Boyd
      July 31, 2020

      What a stupid statement. The evaluation of the budget was on point. Kudos to Mr Vital and theFreedom party. Well said. Poor budget. Not inspiring for the future generations

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 9 Thumb down 6
    • August 1, 2020

      He dont understand he is the only one left on the ship the rest of the crew abandon ship already. And he writing them long stories like he have nothing else to do I have to wonder if he is alright he may have to get treatment.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 6
      • Joseph John
        August 1, 2020

        Wallace, Expertise a political leader must have is the knowledge of diplomatic relations. A political leader who has ambition to be PM or opposition leader does not bash a country with all kinds of negatives (Like Vital)
        China does not have a reputation as a rogue nation. China is/was a victim of rogue nations that had enclaves in China,( Manchuria for example. like Gwantanamo Bay in Cuba by the USA)
        Hong Kong was the last enclave. When the agreement for Hong Kong was signed UK could impose its will on China to colonize part of its territory for a certain period. It had the power.
        Hong Kong is now a very stable financial center , now USA, UK and their friends in the G7 want it. They tried and failed to control it but to no avail. China is too strong for them to invade so they are trying inside discord /demonstrations.
        China’s interest is not colonial. China is not buying friendship for wealth or territorial assets. Ian Douglas said it in a nutshell…One China Policy

      • Papa Dom
        August 2, 2020

        Go and get help for skerritt and stop being a distraction when people are trying to have a sensible conversation and while you at it ask the doctor to examine your mental health

        • Joseph John
          August 3, 2020

          Papa Dom… I normally do not read stuff from opposition forces because with their first grade mentality they bore me. Consider your self on ignore from now.
          Thanks for the advise. I will go to the doctor as advised. But at your stage your mental conditioning by opposition forces with their political virus there is no hope. You need to go to rehab or like Linton and Vital you will be a lost basket.
          Here is something to remember…mopping of heads of government conference and taking the salute at a student march past, giving a government who has a majority in the house 14 days to pack up and leave. Then they will appoint themselves as interim government. Mama, look jokes !!!
          I just love DNO !!! Comedy, Fiction and Calypso material as provided by opposition forces is always published.
          You say peace to men of Goodwill, Linton says “nonsensical, what about Marigot. Then there is “way de money trick”. Like Houdini 1.2 $B is made to disappear
          He listens to Paul King…

    • TeteMorne I From
      August 3, 2020

      Kent will never get it! As long as people continue to mislead that poor man, he’ll continue to think he is the leader of the “Freedom Party.” Alah, poor Kent.

  11. Batibou River
    July 31, 2020

    We need answers from Skerrit. We can’t let him get away with sweeping the issues under the carpet, in particular those in relation to Missing CBI funds and PetroCaribe.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 7
    • Joseph John
      August 1, 2020

      I agree. So why the people who have a duty/responsibility do not ask the right questions in the right place with the right procedure.
      Why the fake arithmetic of first graders. Does Linton know how many zeroes in a million and how many millions make a billion.
      All propagandist know how to use the idea that “MONEY TALKS”.
      And if people believe that they are being cheated of their dues or entitlement they will get angry and shout “thieves”
      Some of us know how Mark Anthony use this trick to turn the crowd against Brutus. A lie can be made more powerful than the truth. A lie can be made more believable than the truth.
      When European decided to poses the Americas and the Caribbean they called the area “Lands belonging to no one.” There were millions of indigenous inhabitance in occupation. They invented a Latin term, “Terra Nuleus” i e land belonging to no one to justify their lies. Now opposition forces have “way de money ” as their catch phrase.

      • Batibou River
        August 3, 2020

        Listen, you think you are so very clever. Bottom line you are nothing but another one of those little beggars that hang around Skerrit in order to get a few scraps. Brutus, Marc Anthony… do you know who these people were? How would you know about Roman history?

        • Joseph John
          August 3, 2020

          How do I know about a lot of stuff. I am not smart. If I was smart I would be a multiple billionaire like the guy who invented Apple or the Guy who invented Amazon. Or the Dr Dr Prime Minister of Dominica. I just dream about them. Then I say to myself, “self, that is my opinion” Then I write about my dreams. Is that O K with you, Sir ?

      • click here
        August 6, 2020

        Men lie, Women Lie, Numbers dont lie. Deflecting from questions with amusement in Parliament doesnt answer the questions. the questions still stand and need answering. Your examples have merit in their own contexts, however they dont apply here. you gone off talking about land and Mark Anthony. If 1st grade arithmetic doesnt speak plainly to you then nothing will. Excuses and deflections, no proper explanations to the people who themselves are owed a response that is satisfactory. Common trait amongst laborites. Call them out on something bad, they try to justify their nonsense with more nonsense. They still believe the UWP of today is the same one of ’95. If so then we should believe the DLP of today is the same DLP that tried to SELL DOMINICA TO COMMUNISTS AND THE KKK. So much that their leader lived in Stockfarm Prison for decades. See my point? My question to you John, is the PM’s new rent included in the budget? Ill wait for you let me know.

  12. Da Girl
    July 31, 2020

    DNO why is it that every time I post comments they disappear? I just posted a comment under this article like two minutes ago, I come back to refresh and it basically disappeared! And this happens every time I post. Then they reappear when I ask where my comments are.

    ADMIN: What you described could occur for different reasons. If this persists you can email us at with as much detail as you can provide for further assistance.

    Please note that comments do not appear on the site immediately, they must all go through moderation. Comments are generally moderated within 24 hours (often much sooner) with the possible exception of weekends and holidays.

    • August 4, 2020

      @DA Girl after you post a comment and you refresh your you will not see it–most of the time I don’t see mine until the next weekday. And if I post on Friday night I don’t see it until Monday I noticed that feature of DNO from quite a while now.

  13. Da Girl
    July 31, 2020

    Mr. Vital, I hear your arguments but what alternatives would you suggest? If the Freedom party was the ruling party how would you have appropriated the funds?

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