A grand agriculture and tourism forum, aimed at reviving these sectors, is among the major plans for the UWP in 2024

Dr Thomson Fontaine flanked by some of the newly elected members of the Executive of the United Workers Party

The United Workers Party (UWP) has revealed plans to host a major Agriculture and Tourism Forum in the first half of the year to revitalise these crucial sectors, fostering economic growth and prosperity for the nation. Dr. Thomson Fontaine, the political leader of the UWP, unveiled this ambitious initiative during the party’s first press conference of the year on January 4. The forum is slated to be a comprehensive gathering, bringing together a diverse range of voices, including experts, policymakers, and ordinary citizens. This inclusive approach aims to gather insights, ideas, and perspectives from all corners of society to create a comprehensive master plan for the rejuvenation of these vital sectors.

This strategic move comes in response to what Dr. Fontaine notes as an observed decline in agriculture, which has seen exports plummet from hundreds of millions during the UWP administration to less than $10 million under the present regime. As an outcome of this forum, the UWP intends to translate the ideas and discussions into tangible policy papers and decisions. He revealed that the move will position the party to hit the ground running, armed with well-thought-out suggestions and plans when the next general elections take place.

It is also expected to be a collaborative effort involving governmental officials, representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture, farmers, and experts from the respective sectors. The aim is to foster a meaningful conversation about the future of agriculture and tourism in Dominica, ultimately leading to robust policy measures.

He assured the people of Dominica that when the United Workers Party assumes office after the next general elections, they will spare no efforts in restoring agriculture to its former glory and beyond with increased production and exports, development of the marijuana industry and value-added agro-processing combined with a focus on the export of water and other base water industries.

“We will not allow you our farmers to suffer any longer,” Dr. Fontaine declared. During the press conference, the sentiment expressed was that 23 years is an ample time frame for a government to enact transformative measures that enhance the well-being of its citizens and ensure effective management of the nation’s resources, fostering sustained economic growth.

Dr. Fontaine acknowledged some commendable strides made by the current government, including initiatives for elderly care, housing provisions, infrastructural projects, and youth employment through the National Employment Program (NEP).

However, despite these efforts, he notes that “the enduring record of the Dominica Labour Party administration is one of low and declining growth; massive youth unemployment, escalating poverty, deteriorating health and education sectors, foreigners given preference over locals in the awarding of contracts and work and an increasingly frustrated and demotivated population.”

He highlighted a significant failure by the government to uplift the lives of the people of Dominica. Specific areas of concern include the alleged mismanagement of funds from the Citizenship By Investment (CBI) programme, neglect of the agriculture sector, disregard for public health, continued negligence of the country’s youth, and an apparent rise in public corruption related to resource management.

Economic performance figures were highlighted during the address, revealing a modest average growth of 1.5% over 23 years, falling significantly short of the 6 to 7% required for transformative change. Youth unemployment rates were highlighted, indicating a worrisome figure exceeding 70%. Furthermore, wages have reportedly remained largely
stagnant, while inflation has averaged a 4% increase, contributing to exorbitantly high prices across various sectors.

A matter of particular concern that the UWP leader highlighted was the mounting debt burden, surpassing the critical threshold of 100% of GDP. The current debt service arrangement, demanding as much as 12 cents for every tax dollar collected, was pointed out as an additional strain on the nation’s financial resources.

These critical assessments of the government’s performance underscore the urgency for a reevaluation of policies and a reassessment of priorities to address the multifaceted challenges faced by the people of Dominica. He also expressed sorrow over the current state of the healthcare system, reminiscing about a time when the country led the Caribbean in primary health, thanks in part to the efforts of the late Dr. Carissa Etienne. However, he highlighted the unfortunate deterioration of the health system to a point where even basic painkillers are reportedly unavailable.

“People fear a hospital stay worried that they may not come back alive and the health system continues to crumble.”
In response to these challenges, he reassured the people of Dominica that, under a United Workers Party administration, there would be a dedicated and urgent focus on revitalising the health system while maintaining the highest quality of healthcare and ensuring accessibility for all.

Dr. Fontaine outlined the party’s commitment to establishing a top-tier education system and sports infrastructure, aiming to empower youth in wealth-building, sports success, academic achievements, online income generation, and quality job provision.

In the banking sector, he highlighted a consistent decline under the DLP rule, reducing commercial banks from five two.  According to him, the recent imposition of unsustainable fees on credit unions further contracted the financial sector. Dr. Fontaine stressed the importance of a robust financial sector for national growth, emphasising the UWP’s dedication to supporting Dominica-owned businesses and local entrepreneurs.

“We will seek to grow the private sector once given the opportunity by you, the people of Dominica, to govern this country,” he said. “This will include honouring the government’s commitments to small businesses.”

He assured the people of Dominica that the UWP is committed to putting the workers and people of Dominica First.

“We will not fail in our efforts to continually care for and give priority to our own people within the borders of our country, including through a review of the memorandum of understanding with the Chinese government and any other similar arrangement,” he said.

“While we continue to welcome foreigners into our country, we shall never allow the indignity and disregard that has been shown to our workers in this country to continue, nor shall we ever make second-class citizens of our own people,” Dr Fontiane added.

He stressed that the path the nation is on should extend beyond the United Workers Party, as the objective of repairing what’s broken in Dominica, of constructing a larger and improved nation, transcends any individual or political party. With this in mind, the UWP leader appealed to all the people of Dominica, regardless of political affiliation or persuasion, creed or faith but with an interest in building a better country for all to join together in this fight.

Considering this perspective, he made a heartfelt appeal to every individual in Dominica, irrespective of political allegiance, beliefs, or faith to unite in this collective endeavour to build a better nation.

He further called upon Dominicans living abroad, urging them to take on a more substantial role in the nation’s development.

“Consider setting up, for example, small businesses on the island. Collaborate with others to raise financing that can go towards the economic upliftment of this island that we all love,” Dr. Fontiane emphasised.

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  1. If we knew better
    January 8, 2024

    I prefer the likes of the personalities in the UWP, however all they have been known to do is talk. This proposed forum however is more talk and more talk. We need action from the UWP not more talk.

  2. Third Eye
    January 7, 2024

    How can Dr Fontaine assess accurately the economic performance of Dominica during the past 23 years without factoring in the impacts of tropical storm Erika, hurricane Maria and COVID 19?

    However, he is correct. The best political party wins general elections. In Dominica, the DLP wins general elections. It is the best political party. It has captured the political bases of DLM and DFP and has undermined that of UWP. More importantly, it continues to inspire Dominican voters at home and abroad to go to the poles and place their “X” by the shoe. That is why the DLP cannot lose.

  3. Lin clown
    January 5, 2024

    Economic genius in what?Thompson Fontaine worked with RJMEC in South Sudan.Google RJMEC to see what it is and what they do.Thompson Fontaine was the towel and water carrier for RJMEC in South Sudan.That guy is such a liar he said he was senior economic advisor to the government of South Sudan.Fontaine will be senior economic advisor to the government of South Sudan and come back to Dominica to be leader of UWP,that do paying him a 25cents?South Sudan have oil.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 4
  4. Mike
    January 5, 2024

    Every year the DLP passes a budget of 40 to 50 million for agriculture and every year they actually spend only about 1million on agriculture, that alone should tells you all you need to know yet the strangest thing is after 23 years of the greatest Con on Dominicans some people still believe.

  5. Free my mind
    January 5, 2024

    The United Workers party and of late sounds more like The Divided Workers party or the Fighting workers party, must first concentrate on uniting the party than their much talking. Our party is divided between Thompson and his supporters and Linton and his supporters that’s comprised of the former deputy leader and the management of the party that don’t want Dr Fontaine as leader. So tell them to fix that first and then I will listen to them again

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3
  6. Ibo France
    January 5, 2024

    The UWP press conference was quite comprehensive. It emphasized three of the most important sectors – the economy, healthcare and education. Also, inclusiness was a prominent theme. This (inclusivity) is a vital ingredient in good governance. Quite the opposite is practised by the current administration where more than half of the country’s brain power is deliberately not tapped into.

    In this press conference, decorum, respect, facts and knowledge of the burning issues were quite palpable. Hostility, acrimony, lies, half-truths, obfuscation that are usually associated with Roosevelt’s carefully choreographed photo-ops were conspicuously absent.

    My hope is that the strategies and policies tat were espoused by the hierarchy f the UWP are not only words but would be put into action. Thinking and words will not accomplish much, action will.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 11
  7. Blue Reigns
    January 5, 2024

    20+years is disgracefully too much and too long for any political party to rule. Dominicans do not need Kings but public servants who would not abuse the authority granted to them by the public. Dominica needs New Blood.

    The ruling kING said that many people have been removed/brought out of poverty because they now have “keys to their house.” Referring to houses the labor party gave to folks who are well and able. But the reality is that, all the poor people have keys to where they live. Giving a poor person a house doesn’t drive poverty away from them. It doesn’t give them a job, doesn’t put food on the table and clothes on their back. Keys to a house doesn’t automatically wipe away your debts and give you a middle class status. Besides, those keys are not yours, neither the house. This giving away of free housing is undoubtedly making you poorer since it removes any motivation which you may have had to have your own personal dwelling place. We need to change the cycle.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 11 Thumb down 16
    • January 5, 2024

      More garbage from UWP as usual. Same old, same old. Is Fontaine the best thing they have ever seen or heard? Well, well, case closed.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 8 Thumb down 8
  8. Putin
    January 5, 2024

    And this is the best team that the UWPwee delegates could conjure?! No wonder Skerrit told Matt that there is no way the UWPWee can unseat Labour.

    As for this forum talk, for all his touted economic wizardly, Dr. Fontaine still prefers more talk than substance when we need action. The dude has NEVER, ever, presented one feasible plan to rescue an economy that he claims for more than a decade now is “dead.” Now, he repeats the same falsehood about agriculture being dead but instead of using his supposed economic genius to lead, he says “let’s talk about it nah man.” Is he for real? This chap is a charlatan and he continues to disrespect his supporters by fooling them into believing that he can actually make a difference. Fontaine could not make a difference when he was senator, he has not made it as absentee leader of the UWPwee, and he still will not make it in this second term as leader. The sooner the UWPwee wakes up and kicks him out, the greater their chance at the polls.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 11

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