Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit is claiming that his government has made available over $6 million to the Electoral Commission to acquire the technology to allow for Electoral Reform in Dominica.
He made the announcement during a cabinet town hall meeting held in Barbados on Thursday last week. The Prime Minister has been under pressure from the Opposition United Workers Party and other groups to issue voter ID cards before the upcoming elections which could be held in less than three months.
But Skerrit told those who attended the meeting that his government is fully in support of the measures required to have Electoral Reform.
“In 2016, after we were devastated by Tropical Storm Erika where I had to relocate two communities because of the disaster, I still went ahead and gave the electoral commission over 6 million dollars to acquire the technology to allow it to be in a position to issue the National ID Cards,” he said.
According to the prime minister, “We provided the Electoral Commission with all the staff it requested and all of the other supporting resources that it requested from the government.”
The Prime Minister claimed that when the Electoral Commission requested funds to begin the process, “I said to them that their request was too low because I needed to ensure that they had all of the resources to effectively implement the issuance of the National ID Cards for the purposes of voting.”
According to Skerrit, at the time, the Commission had a Chief Elections Officer who came from the audit department, “so he looked at things purely from an auditing, accounting standpoint and I provided the Commission with more resources than they had requested of the executive of the government.”
He stated that as far as the executive, which is the cabinet, is concerned, “we had done all what we needed to do.”
He added that as it stands now, the Electoral Commission does not have the legislative authority to issue National ID Cards, “and so we sought to go to Parliament on two separate occasions.”
If anyone is holding back electoral reform, Skerrit said it is the Opposition.
“The first time we went to Parliament there was a mob outside of the Parliament.
“I decided to withdraw the bill on the order paper and to allow for there to be further consultation with stakeholders across the country,” he stated, adding, “we wrote to the opposition in Dominica, for example, and we said to them these are the amendments, tell us which of these clauses you do not agree with and which you agree with so that we can have a discussion, a sensible discussion on the matter and according to him, the opposition are yet to submit to the government what they agree or disagree with.
“The only people who have been the stumbling block in the issuance of National ID Cards in Dominica for the purposes of voting is the opposition,” he argued.