Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit has told the nation that Ross University has taken a decision to leave Dominica.
Skerrit said in an address to the nation on Friday morning, that very soon the university will announce its departure from the country.
This disclosure from the prime minister comes against the background of mounting speculation over the past several months as to whether Ross would return to Dominica after the university, following the devastating passage of Hurricane Maria, relocated its operations to St. Kitts and the state of Tennessee in the US.
Government received formal notification of Ross’s decision a few days ago.
“Since Hurricane Maria, the officials of Dominica have been in constant contact with officials from Ross to see how we could cushion the impact of Maria. Over the last ten months, we explored all options that one could think of in our discussions with Ross, At the end of the day, the officials of Ross, like any other business person, reserve and exercise the right of the shareholders and many interests to include but not limited to parents, students, faculty and sponsors,” Skerrit remarked.
The prime minister directly attributed Ross’s departure from storm-battered Dominica, to the passage of Tropical Storm Erika and Hurricane Maria and insists that had it not been for these two weather systems, “there would never have been any consideration of Ross’s departure from Dominica.”
“Let us make it very clear that Ross loves Dominica and Dominica loves Ross,” Skerrit said pointing out that just a few years ago, the partnership agreement between Ross and the Dominica government was renewed for twenty-five more years.
He said he is satisfied that Ross “tried everything” to remain in Dominica and because of their continued “love and connection with Dominica,” they had agreed to keep open the door for the return of several aspects of their US five billion dollar operation. He said government is now positioning itself to take advantage of such opportunities in the future.
“However, notwithstanding our understanding of the decision, we made the point to them that the forty years of our association is not forty days and it’s only fair that in any marriage of forty years, that if there is to be a parting of ways, there should be at least a sharing of the fruit of those forty years. Ross has agreed to this in principle and we are now at an advanced stage of negotiations as to how best Ross can thank Dominica for those forty years,” the prime minister revealed.
While admitting that it would be presumptuous of him to anticipate what the final decision will be as the specifics were still being discussed, Skerrit said he and his team had made some very strong and reasonable suggestions that he hopes will be accepted by Ross University.
“Suffice to say that the first and foremost in my consideration was for Ross to leave a lasting tangible monument to the warmth of the friendship that existed between Dominica and Ross University…….secondly, Ross is into education. Ross has benefited hundreds of Dominicans over the years. So, henceforth ordinary Dominicans desirous of pursuing studies in medicine or related studies will continue to access the relevant scholarships at Ross University,”
The Prime Minister and his team are also seeking some “tangible assistance” from Ross for many businesses that will be negatively impacted by the University’s departure from Dominica, to help those businesses re-position themselves in the economy.
Government plans to meet with the individuals affected and to discuss the future, and to share with them the plans for them specifically, and the country in general, the prime minister promised.
Below is a video of the entire address by the Prime Minister.