Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, has rubbished claims by critics that his government has not been undertaking initiatives to address the issues of unemployment in the country.
He was speaking on Friday morning at a ceremony during which a cheque of $2-million was presented to the National Development Foundation of Dominica (NDFD). The loan is geared at assisting small and cottage industries.
According to the Prime Minister his government has been working on policies and initiatives to address the present day challenges, including unemployment, of Dominica.
“These initiatives did not exist before we came into government. We have created the Agriculture Investment Unit and through this unit we have provided tremendous financial resources to farmers through the AID Bank. We created the Small Business Support Unit and we were accused by the opposition of giving people handouts in Dominica,” the Prime Minister said.
Additionally, he said, the Dominica Youth Business Trust was created for young people who do not have collateral to start a business.
“We have provided direct loans to several business owners in the private sector,” the prime miniser said. “We have provided loans to the AID Bank at the first instance $5 or $7 million. secondly $10 million for housing and I shall make another $5 million available to the AID Bank to lend to prospective home owners at 5 percent interest.”
Prime Minister Skerrit noted that lots are being made available to citizens through the government’s squatter regulation program.
“We are now doing roads and infrastructure in Colihaut. 85 lots will be made available to the residents of Colihaut, we shall go into Lilly Valley to make lots available to them there, in Cochrane, we have about 4 or 5 acres of land and will be making land available there, in San Sauveur we have started infrastructure there to make lots available to residents of San Sauveur and Petite Soufriere,” he said.
The money loaned to the NDFD is at 3 percent interest.
“The loan will be at 3 percent interest, so we are lending to the NDFD at 3 percent interest,” Skerrit explained. “They will lend to prospective applicants at a maximum of 6.5 percent. On average the NDFD lends at 8 percent so it might just be the first time that the NDFD is lending at that low interest rate because of the government’s intervention; making financing cheaper to the prospective business owners.”